Christmas mornings are always filled with sleepy eyes and excitement for my two boys.
The first thing we always go to…

The Stockings.

Last Christmas, each of my boys grabbed their stocking from the hook and immediately dumped it out. Once
the goodies are thoroughly combed through, my youngest son Jaxson, proceeds to hand out the remaining stockings hanging on the wall.

Sasha the dog
And then Brantley’s stocking.

It was empty. For the first time.

I used to buy small toys and trinkets to take to the cemetery. But as the years have gone by it hurt more and more each year to buy headstone decorations for my baby. So I just slowly stopped. And Jaxson noticed.

Jaxson – “Mom Santa didn’t bring anything for Brantley.”

Me, trying to say happily – “Brantley got his Christmas gift in Heaven.”

Jaxson – “Oh yea, that’s right because he died.”

It’s been 7 years.

I still have moments that grief physically pains me. Looking at his empty stocking that Christmas morning, I felt like a knife was in my heart all over again.

I was saddened you were not here, I felt guilty for not putting something in you stocking,
I was emotional that your brother who never got to meet you, includes you in Christmas.

Brantley should have been here with us to empty his stocking filled with toys and treats. But instead, his stocking hung empty on the hook.

And just like that, what was a happy, holiday memory quickly became a painful moment. This happens far too
often on special occasions for my family and I. When you lose a child, you don’t just lose them once.

You lose them again and again

With every moment or milestone they miss. You lose what they could have been, what they should have
been. And every time an occasion passes without Brantley, it feels like I have lost him all over again. Sometimes it passes with a small tear in my eye and other times it is so painful it takes my breath away.

But no matter how much it hurts me, I will always hang his stocking. The memory of him is all we have. I
like to think I am doing a good job including him in the holidays because his younger brother speaks of him without being reminded.

So, this year maybe I will find something new for Santa to put in his stocking. Something for his brothers
to have in memory of him.

Maybe a note from Santa? Whatever it is, I’ll make sure it isn’t empty this year.