I gasped a little when I first saw it. I felt guilty for even forgetting it was there. I was in the basement and going through some cabinets when I spotted the precious little coffee mug.
“World’s Greatest Grandpa” it read.
Although Grandpa passed over five years ago, it didn’t stop my son Owen from buying this special gift at last years’ school holiday gift shop.
Owen has always been thoughtful that way, particularly during the holidays. My 9-year-old son also has a big brother in Heaven. Liam died before he was even born, yet Owen always makes sure to pick out the best seasonal items for decorating his grave.
Just because they are gone, doesn’t mean they are forgotten. In fact, the holidays are even more reason to celebrate those we’ve lost.
Our tradition is not exactly a new one. Many of our family and friends partake too.
Whether it is leaving an empty chair at the table or donating to a special charity, it gives us great comfort in keeping memories alive.
From the moment we lost Liam in September of 2008, my husband Brian and I agreed that he would always be remembered. Although the first Christmas was particularly rough, we made sure to order ornaments with this name.
We decorated his grave.
We sent out holiday cards that included his name and picture.
While it may have been odd to a few of our loved ones, it wasn’t to us. Liam was a part of our family, and always would be.
When our rainbow baby Julia was born, we wanted to make sure her very first photoshoot included Liam. The end result was pure magic: a beautiful color photo with baby Julia in a basket below a picture of Liam looking down on her.
Although the pain softens with time, the memory never fades.
I no longer have to feel weird when I decorate our tree with Liam’s picture.
In fact, our living children are our special guides. They let us know exactly where the keepsakes are and look forward to seeing them each year.
The children are now helping to keep the memory alive.
That doesn’t mean they also don’t get sad from time to time.
It also doesn’t mean our family members will be replaced, which continues to be one of the harshest realities of loss.
Recently, Owen asked if another boy could join our family. While my childbearing days are over, I assured him, once again, he does have one looking down on him every day.
“But, it’s not fair,” he said.
“Why can’t Liam still be alive?”
As per usual, I had absolutely no answer to that question.
I did manage to reassure Owen, once again, that even though Liam may not be here with us physically, he would always live on in our hearts.
“I guess that will have to do for now until we meet again in Heaven,” he said.
Yes, I thought to myself.
We will be together again in Heaven.
My sweet boy’s words could not have been more perfect.