December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas To Us

Our 6th Christmas without him.
My boys have become young men. 
Old memories from holidays past remain.
Beautiful memories with him.
Brutal memories from those first years without him.
New traditions have been created.
Simple and sweet.
Time has given us the gift to create them.

Time has given us the gift to forget.
Forget the overwhelming and suffocating pain.

Time has given us the gift to honor the past.
Enjoy the present.
Have hope for the future.
Celebrate who we have become.

It hasn't been easy.
It still isn't some days.
You learn to live with the pain.
You learn to hold tight to the good.
To the laughter.
To the moments where you feel whole.
To the people who love you.
To the people you love.
To honesty and truth.

We are no longer broken.
The three of us have healed.

A Christmas card.
A Christmas letter.
A Christmas Eve church service.

I was finally able to do it this year.
I enjoyed it.
Yes I cried but tears of joy.
Joy I haven't felt in years.
Hope in my heart.

A Merry Christmas it was.

Truth, love and hope in your inbox every Friday. Sign up for my newsletter here

A Christmas Letter From My Son

Me: I want to write a letter to include with our Christmas card.
Jack: Are you kidding?
Me: Seriously. I think people will be shocked getting a card from us.
Jack: Mom. They will. They haven't heard from us in years! Why don't you start the letter with "Hey! It's the Begans. Remember us?"
Me: Jack. That's pretty funny. Why don't you write it.
Jack: Really? 
Me: Yes. You.

The boy walked up the stairs and 20 minutes later emails me the letter below.
He walked downstairs.
Read it aloud to me.
I laughed.
I cried.
I realize he has a lot to say about his life.
Charlie has a lot to say too (he's writing the letter next year).

We have healed because we are honest about our life.
We celebrate the good.
No sugar coating the bad.
No bullshitting to make others feel better.

I'm sharing this letter for two reasons.
1. If you are deep in your grief, you and your children can heal. It takes work. Do the work. You will have a beautiful life again.
2. You who have supported us over the years I want to say thank you. The boys want to thank you too. Unfortunately, I don't have your addresses.

Merry Christmas my friends.
May you find peace, joy, laughter and hope in your hearts.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Hey! It’s the Begans. Remember us? I know it’s been awhile but we’re finally back for this whole Christmas thing. Old school Sandra has returned to her Christmas and holiday spirit; decorating the house, ordering presents, and even sending out a Christmas card (I’m just as shocked as you are).
Let’s quickly revisit the last five attempts at a Christmas card…
1st year - nothing
2nd year - nothing
3rd year - nothing
4th year - Thanksgiving card! Happy holidays! Oh wait, they’re still sitting in mom’s closet. Getting closer though.
5th year - Holy shit an actual Christmas card that’s going in the mail and ending up at people’s houses! We’ve finally made it.

Jokes aside, Mom, Charlie, and I are thriving in our beautiful town Fairfield, Connecticut.
“Sandy” as my friends like to call her tongue in cheek, is working out everyday at the Y, volunteering at a woman’s center in Bridgeport, and trying her best to keep up with Chaz and I. In May, she pulled a LeBron and returned to her Cleveland, Appleton, WI, to give a more serious speech than this summing up the last five years of our lives. She crushed it. She also crushed her triathlon in September, where even though Charlie and I were a bit worried she wasn’t going to make it out of the ocean after seeing some 80 year olds get out of the water before her, she made up some time and even joined an AIDS race for a little bit to help the cause because that’s the kind of person she is (she got lost in the biking portion of the tri). She also went to Italy over the summer while Chaz and I took our vacation from her for three weeks in Appleton. It was good for all three of us.
Charlie is 14 but by the looks of it, could pass for a college kid. He’s six feet tall and built like a linebacker with the athleticism of a point guard. He’s the talk of the town when it comes to basketball and he’s due all of the credit because when he’s not messing around at home with me, he’s working on his game at the local gym. I got named captain of the varsity basketball team and people claim he’s already better than me so to put that in perspective, I think Ludlowe will be excited to have Charlie join the program next year. I can also drag him onto the golf course in the summer and he holds his own with the locals. In July, Mom and Charlie drove up to Mount Washington in New Hampshire to hike. Most of you know I have the same trait as my dad, which is the outdoors being foreign. In conclusion I had two and a half days to myself to golf and watch the Brewers in peace.
As for me, I’m in the midst of my final year of competitive basketball. I was blessed to walk into the Ludlowe basketball program my freshman year and join one of the winningest classes in school history. Let’s just say I’m not missing Appleton North basketball right now (too soon?). I finished my college applications in November and people, senioritis is for real. I love Ludlowe but sitting in class from 7:30 to 3 everyday is getting old. I’m writing everyday and am going to pursue my degree in journalism and try to follow in the footsteps of my idol Bill Simmons.
As a family this has been the year of the return. We went back to Appleton together for the first time since 2014. Over spring break we took two of my friends and went to our favorite spot in Florida, Sanibel, for the week. We also returned to praising the Lord and finding a church that embraces our steadiness to get back into the church community. Charlie is in confirmation class and mom and I are slowly getting back to going to church.
All in all, the three of us have been to hell and back but I think we’ve come out of the darkness and have found new perspectives on our lives. Beautiful ones. Fairfield has treated us in the best way possible and the friendships we’ve made here are priceless. The support system we’ve created here made the transition seamless. As for Appleton and our peeps from afar, don’t worry, we won’t ever forget about you either. Thank you to all those that have stuck with us the last five years. Through thick and thin, you’ve helped in ways that you couldn’t even imagine. Without you, we’d still be stuck in a cloud of grief with no way out. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Truth, love and hope in your inbox every Friday. Sign up for my newsletter here