We lived in a two bedroom apartment when I took that pregnancy test. I had been sipping wine with Joe on the couch as we watched the devastation of the Boston Marathon bombings coverage on the news and I slipped into the bathroom to pee on a stick.
Another glass of wine and an hour later I remembered I needed to check how many lines were there. Two tiny lines, I held it up for Joe and the look of shock and joy bounced back and forth between our beaming faces.
Two tiny lines sent me in to overdrive. “We need a bigger house,” I said in a sudden haste as if 9 months were actually happening tomorrow. “We can’t bring a baby home to this little apartment, we need this and this.. and this… and this.. and this and this and this and this and this…..
My list grew long before my belly.
One week later, I was at work when Joe called to tell me his blood work had come back bad, the cancer was back.
With that one tiny line, my list suddenly shrunk. All I needed was for him to be okay.
Holidays are weird when your list is now non-existent. When the only thing you want you can’t have. I cringe a little at every picture on my feed of all the things people are sure will make them happy, if only they had a bigger house, if only they had more stuff to fill their soul, they’re just so #blessed #humblebrag #makemewannapuke.
Joe loved buying gifts. He never made it to my actual birthday or Christmas day to give them to me. He always crumbled as his excitement grew and we’d open several days before, often straight from the bag they were bought in. Then he’d be mad at himself for not waiting. It was a vicious cycle.
I’d do the same, sneaking an IPad under his pillow as he headed to bed or the year I hid a TV in the closet. He got me rollerblades that year, he felt horrible and it’d later become one of our favorite stories to tell.
Now Joe is gone and all the things are still here. So many things I had to dig through when I moved. None of the stuff goes with you. It’s the memories that have stayed behind. I can see Joe’s face when he turned down the bed and I had hid a gift for him. I can see his face when I opened up the sushi box and he’d hid tickets to a show inside. He was so proud of himself.
It’s not the stuff, it’s not the things, it’s not the size of the home you bring your baby home to. It’s the love you put behind it, the memories you’re making.
My friends husband is dying, I watch as she posts pictures of him knowing this will be the last year she’ll ever see him read Christmas stories to their boys.
A young woman buried her husband last week and will wake up Christmas morning with three kids under three.
A young family is thankful Christmas morning to have their chubby faced cherub son home after a year of chemo treatments.
It’s my brother and sister-in-law who will help me set up Santa this year. While I feel so lucky to have them fill in, it’s not the way I pictured any of this thing called life.
So before you lose your cool and obsess over all the things you don’t have yet, or wish you did, or guilt over what you didn’t give. I hope you can dig deep and remember if you woke up with a healthy family, you’ve already been given the gift so many are praying for.