First Christmas in Heaven

  What we learned from Benjamin’s First Christmas in Heaven and the Santa Festivities this year…

1.  Teaching your kid to be good for Santa can backfire…Lennon was up til 1:30 crying because she thought Santa wasn’t coming. (I was beginning to wonder myself). This was after a teary confession the day before about drinking DR Pepper at a friends. (Had to fight back the laughter)

2.  Illness hits after 10pm Christmas Eve… Isla was up til 1:30 crying about an ear ache. (I may have been on the verge of tears myself at this point)

3.  Rush only needed toothbrushes for Christmas. (He has only played with plastic cups and his sisters toothbrushes.) 

4. I realized that we have had a baby announcement on the back of our Christmas card two years in a row. (Wow, that’s crazy.) 

 5. Each holiday, they receive a book from Benjamin. This Christmas I was hesitant on the book I purchased since it hit a little too close to home, but once again Santa knew best. Lennon was so excited to continue to remember her brother during the holidays. (Warning: Grab a tissue before reading.)

  6.  Holidays are tough without Benjamin, and I am not sure if they will get easier. I miss him and I miss him more everyday. I believe I hide my sadness well from the kids, but I can’t help but feel like a part of our life is missing. On the other hand, I am able to better appreciate the holidays with the rest of the kiddos, and what better way to spend Christmas than with the birthday boy Himself. 

7. Seeing the kids understand the  true reason for Christmas is such a blessing. They showed a real appreciation for everything they received… well, Rush will get there. :). There is more talk about Jesus than Santa, and I owe a lot of that to Benjamin, our family and friends,  and this community. 

8. Being blessed isn’t reserved for a few…it’s shown through those who can see past the struggles and can have at least a slight understanding that God’s promises are greater than we can ever imagine.  

  Christmas Blessings to All.

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Kateri Annette

Dear Benjamin,

We hope you warned and prepared Kateri for this family before sending her our way :)…

  
Decamber 9th, Kateri entered this world healthy and screaming. You never really appreciate the screams of a newborn baby until you have one that doesn’t. She quickly gave me the scream that says, “I’m ok.”  I feel like she knew I couldn’t handle any pauses. You must have whispered that to her. 

Now, she is home, happy and …relatively safe 🙂 since her big brother wants to love her to death. I hope you warned her. Rush loves and hugs on her and if you guard her in any way, he might toss a toy, narrowly missing her head. We also on occasion, find toys he has tossed her way into the crib hoping she will play. As rough as he can be with her, I am always amazed how he was always to gentle with you. 

   
 Having a new baby in the house is so exciting and fun, but even though I never expected a baby to replace the space you left, I also never expected it to make the space seem larger. I sit in a room surrounded by four amazing kiddos and I can’t help but think how it can’t be complete without you taking up your space on the couch. Last weekend, for the first time, did I realize how well our furniture is placed to perfectly fit your equipment for your perfect spot on the couch.  I am sure most people can’t imagine how you could feel anything missing in this house full of kids, but I do.  On the other hand, a blessing that comes from surviving the valleys is a true appreciation for the peaks…and everything in between.  My eyes are more open now to every moment I have with your siblings, and I thank you for that.  Things that I may have taken for granted before, are now special moments tucked away in my heart knowing that tomorrow on Earth is not promised.

   
   Kateri Annette was chosen for a few reasons. 1.  Kateri is a Native American Saint.  She became a Saint the year Benjamin was born. (Pretty special year). 2. One of our favorite nurses gave Benjamin a prayer card when she moved that was given to her when she was born since they shared the same name, Kateri. We never knew it was her middle name. (She was pretty special as well)  3.  Annette is my Mom’s middle name. We pretended to hate it during the entire pregnancy knowing we were going to choose that name. 🙂 She cried. 

The Holidays

To be honest,  I was kind of dreading the Holidays, knowing that it would be tough without Benjamin. I was right… It’s tough. Though I struggle with occasional sadness, it’s hard to be sad too long with a house full of amazing kiddos, and a husband who knows just what to say, and when to say it. 

It all started with the trip to buy a small tree for the cemetary. Nothing brings Christmas cheer like a woman picking out tree decor in tears.  (Sarcasm) I know it can’t ever be easy dealing with the loss of a child at any age, but sometimes it’s hard to swallow that at 34, I am decorating a cemetary plot.  I would rather be watching Benjamin’s eyes light up at the sight of Christmas lights, or seeing him dance along with his sisters while they decorate the tree, or noticing the excitement when he finds the most perfect Christmas gift. 

  
Two weeks ago, my sadness turned into a complete meltdown over something I hadn’t even thought about… Our family Christmas card. While knowing that I would refuse to take a family picture without Benjamin, I worked on a collage of pictures from this past year. As I scrolled through them, I was reminded of Benjamin’s decline in health. There were few pictures with big smiles, and most pictures he looked pale. It hurt to look through them, and I definitely didn’t want anyone to remember him that way.  I had given up and decided that this family would not be participating in the Christmas card tradition, and I wasn’t sure if we would ever again.  

In a moment where I was alone with Rush, I cried, and cried, and cried, barely able to catch my breath. Rush being the sweet and loving child he is, walked over and placed his head in my lap. He then walked behind the coffee table, crouched down, and jumped up with his modified “peek-a-boo.”  To conclude his cheer up routine, he does this… 

 

It’s amazing how intuitive this kid is at 20 months. 

The next day, we had Sirmon family Christmas pictures. We took a few of us and Benjamin’s plaque, not expecting to use them.  The next day, I pulled up the pictures and God had answered my cry, as he always does. They were perfect, God set that up for me.  I now can’t wait to have our family Christmas cards completed, and for everyone to see them. 

   

  

Tuesday, I took the kids to the cemetary to decorate Benjamin’s Christmas tree.  The girls were so excited and enjoyed every minute never uttering a word of sadness. Lennon and Isla have their moments, but I truly believe they have a better grasp on death and our true eternity better than most adults. I am so proud of them.  Rush was just so happy to be outside. This special moment was something I needed. 

    
 I know it won’t be easy, but we will continue to remind ourselves how lucky we truly are. I can’t think that Benjamin was taken too early from us, but instead know how blessed we were to be given Benjamin for the time he was with us, a true gift. God loaned us his angel, and although just for a short time, it was enough time to change my life and lives around him. 

In less than a week, we will have another miracle to be thankful for…the birth of our fifth child. I can only imagine what Benjamin is telling her before she enters this crazy family.