2016 Christmas day was warm and sunny, not Christmas-like at all; it was a perfect day for a walk to the lake. The neighborhood was quiet; the dogs were inside with their families and the boats were docked for the holiday. The lake was as still as the air – unblemished by a breeze. Only an occasional seagull spotted the glasslike surface.
I trekked to the water’s edge, my shoes becoming caked in mud and slippery. I found a rock big enough to sit upon and rested my camera in my lap. The mirror image of the island created a kaleidoscope effect, and I was almost dizzy with the beautiful shapes and colors. I raised my camera even though I knew the lens would not be able to capture the depth of this incredible sight. A camera cannot register the quiet – the peace of the moment.
Christmas has been difficult since the loss of one of my children. This year is different; I felt like celebrating for the first time in a long time. For me dealing with the loss has felt like an uphill climb, and I think I might have reached the summit – I have arrived at that place of acceptance without agonizing pain and the unbearable guilt.
I experienced the guilt war every Christmas. I felt guilty towards the child I lost if I felt any joy and I felt guilt towards the children who were alive if I felt sadness for the child lost. This year I did not experience this conflict, only peace.
I retreated to the lake for an hour to honor the one I lost, and in the quiet I found peace. And I brought the peace home to share with my family. This gift made this Christmas special for us all.