Tears in My Stocking 

What did Santa bring you?

This might be the first Christmas in my life where his visit brought me tears. I don’t blame the big guy – he’s really got nothing to do with it. He didn’t set his elves to build them in his shop, pack them in his bag, or stow them on his sleigh. Santa is like a magnifying glass for all things joyful and when that joy is lost, he magnifies its absence as well.  

I’m sitting here in our den alone at 7 am, drinking my coffee and watching the sun peek through the trees. This could have never happened before. Any other year, I would have been up for over an hour, yawning and probably scratching my backside after staying up well into the night assembling toys and applying stickers. For the past eighteen or so Christmases, there has been too much excitement bubbling and brewing to sleep this late. The girls always sent a messenger to our bedroom to let us know that they were awake, a fact that couldn’t slip past us as we listened to feet on stairs and a chorus of giggles. The presents in our den would be covered in bedsheets so prying little eyes wouldn’t see what Santa brought. Nice of him to keep that tradition today even though all I hear from their rooms is snoring.

When I got out here this morning, there were two stockings up: Mom’s and Kylie’s. I filled Mom’s and set it with the others, leaving just one. We have been entertained over the past few days by watching videos of Christmases past. On one, there was a point in the morning carnage where one of the girls noticed a stocking that hadn’t been touched and Daddy Santa had one of those “oh crap” moments before he admitted that he forgot. Mommy Santa didn’t forget. She never forgets.

I am sad that my children are past the Santa age. This change was inevitable, but we had a year or two stolen from us. I love the Christmas morning energy, excitement, and wonder. That is just fun, unbridled joy. We could certainly use more of that.

I am also sad that Kylie’s stocking is still hung by the chimney with care.

imageIt is not full. It is as empty as her room, her chair, and that chamber of my heart where she used to reside. She will not be dancing up our stairs from the basement where she slept with her sisters on Christmas Eve. I won’t get to see her wide smile and starlit gaze. I miss her so much right now that I’m just about ready to push Santa’s fat butt up the chimney with his cookie-stained beard and magnifying glass….

… or maybe I should go wake up the troops and see if we can find a smile that will soak up a couple of the tears that the fat elf brought. It is nearly 8 now and I figure there’s got to be some joy around here somewhere. I think this year, we might have to search for it.

Merry Christmas from Portsong!

May you all find joy, even if you have to look high and low for it.

* * * * *

Updated 9:16 am – I woke them up – joy found.

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36 thoughts on “Tears in My Stocking 

  1. Merry Christmas. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They always touch me. I have no healing words to offer. I hear you and pray for you often.

  2. My heart breaks for you guys, I can only imagine how much you miss Kylie this Christmas morning. Praying you find joy today and always.

  3. Reading your posts has gotten me through some of the toughest months of my life. My If brother passed away August 3rd after a long battle with metastatic melanoma; he was only 36 years old. So, I read your posts and smile at the images of Kylie. And then I let your words sink in and feel something similar. I’ll never pretend to know exactly how you feel, as I lost my brother, not my child. But maybe Kylie’s sisters and I can truly understand each other’s pain. But, I have seen your pain in my mother’s tears. And whenever I see her cry, I think of you and your family. This year, the chair where my brother sat, when time to open gifts, was empty. There was no larger than life personality sitting there today. But, just as we cannot see our Lord but we still know He is there, I know my brother was there with us. It just hurts so much to acknowledge the emptiness. I wish you a very Merry Christmas. I wish I could adequately express how therapeutic your words are for me. Especially since my family does not speak openly of our loss and feelings. So, thank you. God Bless you.

    1. I am so sorry for your loss, Raina. I can’t imagine how you felt either. Loss is loss and it is hard. It makes me feel good to know that I’ve been even a slight amount of help to you. Blessings this Christmas.

  4. Isn’t it wonderful how the smiles, giggles and the joy of Christmas is still there in you daughters and Robin. Kylie will never be forgotten or replaced but she lives on in the rest of you….God bless

  5. merry christmas, and i feel quite sure that you were able to find a bit of joy right within your own walls today, and in your heart, for knowing that you are half of the team who brought that angel into this world, even if it was for far too short a stay. hugs and bless you all, beth

  6. Your words always pierce my heart because I feel the pain from yours when you pen them. So glad when the girls woke up you found some Joy…and Kylie’s stocking…what about each year each of you write her a love note to Kylie in heaven…tuck inside her stocking each year to remain…maybe it will help in some way to feel more connected to her. Just a thought… ❤️ God Bless your family…Smiley Kylie’s spirit is always felt in your posts when I read them.

  7. Oh, Mark. Your words always touch a place deep in my heart that I can’t explain. I don’t know your pain, but I feel a part of it reading your words. This brought me to tears, again, yet seeing the smiles on your girls’ faces lets me know they were working to help you get through this. May your family find some peace in God’s love for you today. Christmas Blessings.

  8. The loss never goes away and holes in the heart forever remain holes. And yet, your gorgeous Angel Kylie, your honest caring words, and your family’s beautiful smiles comfort so many. I hope you know how many lives you and Kylie have touched. Peace be with you, Mark.

  9. This was a good year for me. We still hang Alexander’s stocking that I made for him, and hang one at my mom’s house too. My aunt always has a special present for Alexander – this year it was an Angel Christmas Ornament, and my sister gave us a Sea Horse Ornament – his favorite toy was a Sea Horse toy.

    It is nice to see the Joy in my girls eyes. But I am still always thinking about Alexander’s second, and last Christmas in 2010 which was spent in the hospital.

      1. my way of “giving” to Alexander is giving back to the hospital that took care of him. When he was in at Christmas, he got presents from Santa, but no stocking. So, I make sure I bring stockings, and a few little things to fill them up. My aunt usually finds some sort of Christmas Ornament for Alexander. I really like that =)

  10. Mark, It is about 15 minutes until the 26th. With the passing of the day, your loss of Kylie doesn’t change. Just wanted you to know that this season, I thought of many parents and siblings, who are missing an important person in their family. Cancer is dreadful. I have hoped for years that continued awareness would make changes for the better. However, it will change nothing for the many children, I knew, the many I know only from their parents. It also won’t change anything for the families left here, missing them. Just want you to know I care about that. I understand forever loss! I may not presume to know the feeling but I know it exists. I do care. Margy

  11. Mark – Last Christmas (2014) we started a new tradition with our grandchildren. We call it “the gift of giving”. Instead of receiving a present from Grammy and Grandpa, they thoughtfully choose a charity and we donate what we would have spent to that charity. We were, at first, apprehensive about their reaction to not receiving “stuff”. Little did we understand our grandchildren. They have taken to this like ducks to water looking forward with great anticipation to when they get to tell all of us what they’ve chosen, and why. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this. One of our granddaughters was a classmate of Kylie’s for only one year at the Perimeter School. The past two Christmas’, Lexi has chosen a charity to honor or to memorialize Kylie. Last year it was “Make a Wish Foundation” and this year it was “Truth365”. Our whole family has been blessed by Kylie and the short time Lexi called her “friend”. Your sweet, precious angel will NEVER be forgotten by Lexi and the entire Willbrand family. God gifted all of us with Kylie!
    For His Glory,
    Lisa Willbrand

    1. Thank you Lisa. What an amazing and generous tradition and I’m honored that they’ve chosen childhood cancer charities in Kylie’s memory. You are helping set forth a selfless direction for them. Blessings.

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