All that she asked Santa for this year was twin babies.
She sat on his lap in the mall on that dark, snowy day and when the words "What would you like for Christmas?" cheerfully came from Santa's lips, her immediate response was "Twin babies".
It was my wish too, knowing full well that Santa couldn't make miracles happen at that point in our journey. And although I knew it would break me just a little bit more watching her hold, care for and play with her own twin dolls, she needed them.
So Santa delivered. And she was thrilled.
And as I breathed in that Cabbage Patch baby powder scent that is so familiar to me from my own childhood, and I saw her excitement as she read through their adoption papers and birth certificates, it made me smile.
Because a little healing for us all can come in the most unlikely of places.
Because Christmas was tough this year with losing one of our twins so close to that big day.
So I had told myself that I needed to pull myself together for the kids--to show them that I'm sad of course, because that is the honest truth...but to also show them that life, celebrations, happiness, parties, family time and the magic of Christmas still had to go on. Staying stuck in my grief and sorrow was so easy to do, but my kids needed their mom---their mom who would get up and smile at them each morning, and brush their hair, and kiss their cheeks and tuck them in at night and who would make life feel like it was still moving forward, like everything would be okay, even when I didn't necessarily believe it myself.
So I made hot chocolate for everyone on cold, windy days when I was feeling sad.
And I helped them build a snowman on a day when I felt like I just wouldn't be able to hide my tears from them otherwise.
And I dressed them up in adorable matching Christmas dresses, just because I knew it would make them (and me) so darn happy.
And I handed them a massive box of chocolates on Christmas eve and watched their eyes light up as they all meticulously picked the perfect chocolate--which reminded me that it's really the little things that the kids are going to remember about Christmas time.
And we sprinkled reindeer food all over the lawn on Christmas eve for Santa's hungry reindeer...
and they found that sneaky present from the North Pole that Santa somehow always leaves in our mailbox outside for the kids on Christmas eve...ironically a new Christmas story for everyone to share right before bedtime.
And we all woke up to a room full of family and presents and a big breakfast feast...
and little sisters taking off jammies, just for the heck of it, right in the middle of the Christmas morning madness.
So Christmas was still great this year. Great, but sad. Because grief really does come in waves--waves that you have to ride out to survive. Waves that make you have to leave the Christmas service in tears, and waves that make you shed a few tears behind closed doors on Christmas day, hiding my grief from the happy little faces that were so excited that Christmas was finally here.
But what I do know is that life has to continue on. I have to get up each morning whether I want to or not, because being a mom means that I have to pull it together and show my kids that even when we're hurting, even when we're sad, we need to get up and find the good. Find the things that we're so grateful for. Find the happiness that on some days is so hard to find.
So celebrating the start of a New Year with friends became my therapy.
And prepping food, having friends over, and celebrating the fact that life is moving forward is all that I could do to stop myself from crawling into bed and just being sad.
So my sweet babies--my three amazing kids...here is my lesson to you:
Life is going to throw you some hard times--and when those hard times come, FEEL them, cry until your eyes hurt, talk it over, talk it out, have your moment....but then, realize that life is still oh so beautiful and wonderful. You might have to weed through the pain and heartache to find it, but don't just sit in your pain and sorrow forever. Find the good, do something specific to make yourself happy, connect with people even when you're drained of everything that you have, and rediscover all of the things in your life that you still have to be grateful for.
Because life is not meant to be perfect and it won't always be easy, but we can choose how we react to the circumstances that we're handed.
And when all else fails...use Snapchat to get a laugh.
Works every time.
Love, your heartbroken, but still standing, mom xox