A Christmas Tradition

A few days ago Bird in Hand posted this status on their Facebook wall. Brooks had shared this story with them.

Bird in Hand is a local store here in Chico. They sell all sorts of fun stuff for adults and kids. Bird in Hand also hosts the National Yo-Yo Museum. I used to take Wyatt to Bird in Hand for Yo-Yo lessons occasionally on weekends. He was in awe of the older kids who could do all the crazy yo-yo tricks.

Every year, downtown Chico hosts Christmas Preview on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. All the stores are open for the evening showing off their goods for the holiday season. Some shop windows are filled with dancers or singers. Santa is there for the kids. And many of the shops give out cookies and maybe even hot cider.

We go every year. It’s great fun and a great way to start the holiday season.

An important stop during Christmas Preview is always Bird in Hand. Bird in Hand always hands out a new button for the season. The year that Wyatt was maybe 4 or 5, he really got into the buttons from Bird in Hand. Before we left the house for Christmas Preview that year, we collected all the buttons I had from previous years and pinned them on his Santa hat to wear to Christmas Preview.  He was so anxious to get his new button to add to his hat.  Since then, every year he would wear his Santa hat with all the buttons so he could get the new button for the year and add it to the collection.

We still haven’t missed a year of Christmas Preview. And perhaps the most important stop is Bird in Hand for our buttons. And we still get one for Wyatt’s Santa hat.


Family Photos

All the family photos. They kill me. I love them, but they kill me.

I’ll never have a complete family picture again. There will always be a hole. Right now it feels like a chasm that I may just fall into.

All the photos of smiling kids. Holding their parents hands. Leaning into their Mom or Dad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am utterly grateful for what I have. I love Brooks and Shane more than I have words for. They are my world. I do love pictures with them. And I will cherish them. Believe me, I know how precious they are.


And I don’t begrudge others their family photos. I want to see them. I want to see the smiles. The love. The completeness. Because I don’t want anyone else to feel like I do. I want to see that those I love and care about are whole.

It’s just at times like this, when everyone is looking for a good family photo for the Christmas card. When everyone under the sun is posting their family pictures with the sweet sayings about being thankful…. I am thankful too. It’s just mixed with sadness and even anger because my family picture is forever altered.


And when I walk away from the family photos by the rock at the cabin. The same rock where I have taken countless whole family photos. On the same yearly trek that my child has been on every year until he died.  On the first trip back to this place at this time without him.  Where I held him as a baby. Where I corralled him as a toddler. Where he held my hand and leaned into me as a sweet little boy who was mine. Please know that it’s not about you or anything you did. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m not trying to spoil the mood. Or make everyone sad. Or not cooperate.

I just need a moment. A moment to collect myself. To calm my breath. To catch myself from falling into that abyss that is the empty space where my baby should be.

I need to harness the panic that is rising in my chest. The panic that makes my heart race, my breath catch, and my brain spin. I’m learning how to harness it. Because it still comes. It will never stop rearing it’s ugly head. Because my baby isn’t coming back. He’ll never be in the family picture again. But I am learning how to harness that beast.

imgsvr (1)

And only I know how to do that. Only I know how to catch myself. Whatever other’s thoughts or beliefs or opinions, they belong to them. I have to do my grief my way. When I walk off from these moments… I’m trying not to lose my shit in front of everyone. I’m trying to save face. I’m trying not to crumble into a trembling pile of sobs in front of you. Because even though others may not want to believe it, or some might even think I should be over that phase, that still happens. And more than anything, I’m actually trying to spare everyone the pain that is ripping through my heart.

imgsvr (2)

Please know I will come back. I’m harnessing the beast. I’m letting some of the tears run their course because that is how I will heal. Some of the sobs are escaping to make room in my chest to breathe. Because the deep breaths I take will calm the panic and chase the beast away.

So, when these moments happen, it’s not about you. Or what you said. Or what you did.  Please don’t take it personally.  I appreciate the space you give me to gather my dignity and put the smile back on my face. It can be the greatest gift I am given in these moments. These moments when my family picture is not and will never be whole again.


In Honor of Wyatt

Many have asked if or how we are honoring Wyatt this week. Wednesday, May 24th will be a year since he left us.  

We’ve given this a lot of thought. I’ve pondered many ideas from elaborate to simple. I’ve asked myself, “What would Wyatt want? What would mean the most to him?”

In our hearts, the best thing that we can all do to honor Wyatt is to be KIND. Kindness was Wyatt’s Way. It is how Wyatt was and how he would want us to continue in this life.  

So, very simply, we ask you to be KIND. In whatever way you see fit. Help a neighbor. Do something to brighten someone’s day. Say hello to a stranger. Bring flowers from your garden to brighten the office. Buy the guy behind you in line a coffee. Play with your kids. Take a friend out for ice cream. Pay someone a compliment.

This is what Wyatt would want. And he would be happy to know that the people who love him, are loving each other. 

Let your kindness be random. Let it be planned or spontaneous. Let it be private or let it be public. Whatever feels right. If you’d like to share it, we welcome you to. You can share it on Wyatt’s Facebook page. You can post it anywhere on social media with the hashtag #WyattsWay.

Thank you for loving our boy and for loving us. We have been blessed with kindness beyond what we could have ever imagined from all of you, from friends and strangers. From unimaginable pain has come unimaginable beauty in the kindness that we have been shown. Kindness that is a reflection of our sweet Wyatt and the kindness he showed others. A kindness that we can only hope will carry his memory forward to continue to touch the lives of others.