In doing so, I hope she will have just a glimpse into the planning and effort that went into trying to have her, and all of the excitement and anticipation surrounding her arrival. After IVF failed the first time, Mom told me "I'm going to hold that baby!" I want Autumn, as we have taken to calling her, to know how loved and wanted she was, even before we received that positive test. And how overjoyed my Mom was when I told her I was pregnant, both of us silently knowing and wishing that she could be here for more.
A few weeks before Christmas, my Dad told me he asked Mom what to get me. My heart skipped a beat. Then he said "When you've been married as long as we have, you know what the other person would say." He wanted me to know that the gifts I was going to receive, for our baby girl, were from both of them.
Christmas Eve came, and traditionally we open one present. Dad knew the package, and handed me one wrapped in paper different from everything else under the tree. Inside were the most darling pink leather baby booties, with roses for Mom.
On Christmas morning, I did my best to cook up some sausages like Mom did, but they weren't as good. There was an emptiness in the air and in our hearts. The first holiday without a loved one is something to get through, not enjoy. But we did our best, as Mom would have wanted, and having this baby girl to look forward to helped. In my darkest days of grief, she is a bright spot.
I feel like the gifts that Dad picked out and had imported from England really were something Mom would have chosen. I will pack these away when she outgrows them, and like to imagine that Autumn may pass them on to her girl one day.
Another Christmas tradition in our family is that after all of the gifts have been opened, there's a special one, the best of all, from Santa. Sometimes it's hidden, or in another room. One year, a bike was left up on the roof, because Santa couldn't fit it down the chimney.
As in years past, this last gift was the most special. "Santa" had developed 15 rolls of film on disposable cameras that all belonged to Mom. When I switched to digital cameras around 2003, Mom's complaint was that the photos were never printed. So when we had an event or special occasion, she bought a disposable camera. It was amazing to look through the hundreds of pictures, most of them taken by her. Here are a few of few of my favorites.
|Her favorite Saint, Blessed St. Martin|
|I received that Tiffany anchor necklace that year, along with a note I saved that said I was the anchor of the family.|
|This was a dirt field when she started. Avenue G, Yucaipa.|
|Joking about having a double chin in photos. I miss her laugh, but can almost hear it when I look at this.|