A Christmas Surprise

Screen_Shot_2016-12-11_at_9.33.14_AM.pngYesterday, we received a great big box in the mail. Shelby drug it in through the front door, and we slid it across the living room floor, near the Christmas tree, to open it up. I zipped a pocket knife through the tape and she pulled open the top of the box to reveal presents of all shapes and sizes. She squirmed with excitement, while Mike and I stood watching her pull each one out and read off the “To” and “From” tags one at a time.

As she read them, my heart filled with joy. Presents from all of Drew’s family… his parents, siblings, aunt and uncles, to all three of us. It quite took me by surprise actually. I had assumed after moving away from them, and starting a new journey, that we might fade from each other’s lives a bit. I think I mentally prepared myself for that shift to happen some this Christmas. Instead, we received this great big box of goodies I could have never imagined...


It was like watching a beautiful moment in someone else’s life unfold, only it was happening in mine. It was all so surreal, to be standing there watching this 9 year old little girl, and knowing that she gained not only me, but a whole bunch of new family when I came into her life. Not just my family, but the family of my fiance… whom have decided to continue loving me and my new family as an extension of loving their son. It makes me wish everyone could realize that loving in this way helps everyone heal so much.

Our previously barren tree is now bursting with presents underneath it… before we have even finished getting all the ornaments on. This year, I will spend every day until Christmas looking at those presents in a way I’ve never looked at Christmas presents before. They are not only a reminder of love and family, but so much more. A reminder that I actually have a family now, which feels incredible but still so surreal. A reminder of Drew still being a part of my life, and a reminder that he and his family will continue to be a part of my life with Mike and Shelby for a long time. It’s a surreal and beautiful feeling. I can’t help but imagine all of our dead people - her mom, my mom, my dad, Drew - and the joy it brings them to watch all of us love each other so well, and continue to be in each other’s lives and celebrate each other’s new chapters.

I know it doesn’t always happen this way. I’m so acutely aware, as Drew’s parents were divorced and remarried. I have no relationship with Drew’s father and step-mom, who chose to isolate from me after he died. We haven’t spoken in probably 3 years now. I broke my own heart trying to keep a relationship with them for over a year, until I finally had to walk away. It is too painful for some, or they aren’t capable of seeing past the pain maybe, to be able to love. And so I lost them, and that connection to Drew. His mom and step-dad though, took the opposite approach. Instead of distancing from me, they pulled me closer. They took me in, literally, as part of their family. They knew that love is what we all needed to make it through. They showed me how much better it is to love than to isolate.

Love is what heals, and loving each other allows us to put that displaced love for our dead people somewhere beautiful and meaningful... into the hearts of others. Each of those colorful gifts under my tree this year is a firm reminder of this one idea:

Be Love.

It’s one I needed too, because all the change this past year had made me isolate a bit. I've felt myself harden to the outside world, putting up protective layers that aren't really serving me so well, in an effort to feel "safe". Which is great for my pride and ego, but hard on my heart honestly. It’s probably time someone reminded me to switch gears, and remember how much better it feels when I am busy being love instead of trying to hold walls up. An important reminder for us all. Be Love.


Showing 4 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Cathy
    commented 2016-12-11 18:52:28 -0800
    Sarah, Brings back memories of when my kids were small, they were both openly adopted, we knew birth parents and extended family. We’d get a box from both birth moms, presents for all, no one excluded… your picture of Shelby captures just what it was like. Your family tree has so many branches on it, just like mine. My kids, now adults, still have ongoing contact with their other “Moms”, we all agree there is room for all to love one another.
  • Susan Anderson
    commented 2016-12-11 14:54:42 -0800
    You are so lucky! What a gift for you and your new little family! I wish I had some of that coming my way! I have no children, a brother who has divorced me – and I him due to toxicity. My “family” was my husband’s family, and they are all gone except for his brother. The two of us are kinda clinging to each other in the storm of holiday emotions.
  • Amy Richard
    commented 2016-12-11 09:59:27 -0800
    With you on this journey and sobbing along with Kelley. Thank you for sharing xo
  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2016-12-11 08:33:17 -0800
    I’m sobbing my head off reading this beautiful post. Why? Because what you wrote, what you have, how you live after loss – is exactly what I believe. It’s exactly what I want. To have love grow more love, and for the love I have for Don to become an extension of itself, and provide new love to grow on top of it and because of it. Im also crying tears of joy for you, because I know how very hard this is to find, and how so many people choose to do what Drew’s dad chose, and to isolate instead of love. And how much that hurts. And I know what it takes and how hard you have worked emotionally, to get to where you are right now, and how much you deserve to finally have a beautiful family. All because you loved Drew. I truly believe its all connected, and I do think all the people who died that you love, are beaming every time they see that love being extended forward. Im also crying because I love Christmas so much, and I love YOU. I just love every single word of this post. Thank you Sarah ….