Special Holiday


As we left the photography studio where our Special Delivery press shots were taken a few weeks ago, I drove down towards the freeway and was greeted by a fitting sight. Above the grime and dirt of the city, a flock of pigeons flew around in a circle above me with a single white dove at its center. While I don’t believe in miracles, I believe in special signs, and that was one for me: a sign that Macy is watching over us and is loved. At her burial, we released white doves into the bright blue sky. Kat and my husband released the first one, and the rest followed. They circled high above the cemetery, above the beautiful surrounding hills, above where my baby would be buried. They circled several times above us, graceful wings lifting high, before the first dove led the rest back home.

My youngest is two now, but she exactly mirrors the ages of her eldest sister since they were born in the same month. As such, I can’t help but make comparisons as to where we were four years ago, and how each girl is different. Four years ago was a bittersweet and anxious Christmas; I was eight months pregnant with a baby whom I didn’t know whether I would get to meet alive. (And a two-year old with lots of questions about her ‘sick’ sister.) Three years ago marked the first Christmas we would celebrate without Macy and also almost a year after her birth and death. Still even though it had been almost a year, it was so incredibly difficult to think about celebrating anything. Everything about the approaching holidays made me anxious, most of all the thought of having to put up a façade, to smile through the emptiness, to have to fake the holiday cheer to appease our loved ones.

In the end, we bravely announced to our families that we would be spending our holidays alone. So, on Christmas Eve, my husband, Kat and I went to one of our favorite vacation spots, one that has held many happy memories for us, one where we went to just five weeks after Macy died, when I was still recovering from my c-section and my broken heart and spirit. It was a sad Christmas regardless—it would have been sad no matter what—but we were able to play in the sand, be together, and share in an inadequate meal at Denny’s. I won’t forget that Christmas, but I am happy that we were exactly where we wanted to be.

Today I’m sitting at home in my comfortable clothes as Violet and I finally got dressed for the day around ten this morning. We’ve been making play-doh ice cream and bartering actual food and dancing with the Wii. Mostly I’ve been admiring my Christmas tree with its varied ornaments and white lights and the five stockings hung on my fireplace. One for each of us. Even though Macy is not physically here with us, she is always in our hearts. And, this Christmas, I’m filled with so much gratefulness for how full my life is right now. It’s a far cry from four years ago—while my life was thankfully just as full of love, my heart was still grieving. I’m grateful that my loved ones allowed me to have that grief and support me through it.

This holiday season I urge you to do whatever it is you need to do to make it through for yourself. Meet with others or hide out in your house, decorate your tree with memories of your little one, or don’t put up a tree at all. Go to a special place for you. Grieve if you need to grieve, or celebrate if you need to celebrate. Be selfish. You deserve it.


Melanie Tioleco-Cheng | DECEMBER 17, 2012