It’s always tradition to get a picture of Kasen with Halle’s ornament every year. I guess it’s a way to include in her in all the festivities. A little story behind the ornament – if you’ve read Halle’s story (here, here & here), you might know that only one other person held her besides Brad and myself, and it was our wonderful friend, Susanne. She actually introduced Brad and I, so it was pretty fitting that since she was there for our happiest time, that she would be there for our darkest time as well. Susanne called me every single day after we lost Halle, checking on me, listening to me vent, and lending a shoulder for me to cry on. I’m sure we met several times after Halle died, but I really remember meeting her in December for lunch. That December was the hardest December of my life – watching people shop for their little ones, seeing children sit on Santa’s lap, longing for that excitement in our home, yet it was just quiet – desolate, empty, void of the happy anticipation that I just knew I was going to feel this Christmas – our first Christmas with a little one . . . and not just any little one, one that we fought HARD for, for years, enduring painful tests and treatments just to achieve our goal, a child of our very own.
Yet, I found myself in New York wandering the streets alone, trying desperately to choke back the tears when I saw sweet little girls bundled up in precious winter coats peering through the department store windows, pointing at all the toys and declaring, “Mommy, I want this,” and “Mommy, I want that.” Brad and I had traveled to New York for Brad’s work thinking it might be our only opportunity to see New York in December. I had always wanted to – still do, just when I’m in a better frame of mind. Brad would head off to work from our tiny hotel room every morning and me, still snuggled under the covers of our bed, forced myself up and out every day to experience what I couldn’t at home. What I really wanted to do was bury my head and turn back time, but I trudged on, and even now, I am quite proud of myself for getting out and exploring on my own. I ate at a famous pizza shop for lunch, though I can’t remember the name right now, I stood in line for tickets to a Broadway play (Beauty and the Beast – my favorite), I marveled at all the gorgeous window displays, perused the department stores, I bought tickets for the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular and I watched the New York Rangers Hockey Team skate at Rockefeller Center for their annual Christmas party.
New York in December was amazing, but everything was viewed through blurry, stinging eyes that still couldn’t believe how our lives took a new path, one that we didn’t want to venture down, not ever. How did we get here? How did our lives change so incredibly much in one moment of time? It was unfathomable. And here we were in New York, this was the year of 9/11 – we even found ourselves at Ground Zero by pure accident. I stood there in disbelief, but I had never seen the Towers before, so the impact wasn’t the same as it would be for someone else. My heart hurt so much already that mostly, I just remained standing there in shock. I actually have a hard time remembering much about it at all, yet I was gravely aware that more than just myself was hurting that year.
Well, that was a long story that I had not intended to write, and I never even got to the part about the ornament. Okay, back to the point! Susanne and I met for lunch in December of 2001 and as we were talking and crying, she handed me a package. I opened up the package and it was a Christmas ornament that said “Halle Oct. 21, 2001″ – yes, I burst into tears, just having something tangible with her name on it . . . the very special name that we chose, it meant so much to me to see it in writing, on such a special pink ornament with a little teddy bear on top, a teddy bear that is holding a pink heart. We cried together, we remembered together and we talked about all of her features, how tiny she was, how much she was missed and the most important part . . . we just talked about HER – no one making me feel bad for bringing up her name, no one that I had to comfort because I was making THEM feel uncomfortable, remembering her, remembering that she made an impact in this world and that she will ALWAYS be remembered.
Sooo, this special ornament has a special place on our tree every year and every time I place it on that tree, I remember.