I debated for some time about how to handle Christmas. Would I decorate the house? Ted and I usually did that together and our decorations would undoubtedly bring back memories of previous Christmases, especially last year. We left our decorations up well into January because Eleanor, a new born at the time, loved looking at the lights. I have many blurry pictures of her lying on his chest with the lit tree and glowing fire in the background.
He loved those moments with her tiny little head nuzzled under his chin. He would tell new fathers to try and get their babies to sleep on their chests as much as possible because they wouldn’t do it forever, and man – there was nothing like it.
When the Christmas season arrived this year, I decided that as hard as it was going to be, I had to decorate. Just because he was taken from us, I couldn’t take this Christmas from her. I needed to still do everything I could to give Eleanor some of the joy that he would have given her.
I put up a tree and set out some decorations. I read her the story of the first Christmas each night before bedtime and talked to her about Baby Jesus in the manger. We went to see Santa at the mall and visited some parks where there were Christmas lights. I dressed her in a sweet little dress and took her to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. We did all these things with family or friends, but the feeling of being alone was inescapable.
Ted always did Christmas big, but honestly, he did everything big. He loved making things special for his family. For Easter this year, I got Eleanor a few little things but my main focus was Ted since we always did Easter baskets for each other. But he did a whole basket for Eleanor and wrote the sweetest little card for her. Weeks before Halloween, Ted bought her a Halloween book from the Little Pookie series (which he loved reading to her) and already began planning how he wanted us to dress up as a family. It turned out that was his last gift to her.
Last Christmas, she was too little to get into it, so this year, he would have gone all out to make it exciting for her. Maybe the only solace in all of this is that because she never got to experience the joy of a Ted Dempsey Christmas, she doesn’t know what she missed.
I do though. His absence was felt in absolutely every aspect of this season.
But I did what I will continue to do for the rest of her life: my best.
Will my best as her mom be as good as what Ted and I would have been together as parents? Absolutely not. But I’ve got to work as hard as I can to give her some semblance of the joy and delight that Ted gave as a father during his time here on Earth.
My nightly prayer over her since the accident has been that God would let her see Ted in her dreams so she wouldn’t feel that void in her heart. But on Christmas night, I asked God if she could dream the Christmas day she would have had if her daddy was still with us.
And that was my Christmas wish. Lord, hear my prayer.