Five Christmas Stockings
This year five Christmas stocking hang in our home.
Five glass baubles glisten on our tree.
Five little faces feature in our timeline of Santa photos.
Tiarnán, Maeve, Nora, Clodagh, and our newest addition, Finnian.
Five is the new us.
As I sit here looking at our five stockings I can't help but reflect on all they stand for. Three of these stockings, the first, second and fourth, bear all the anticipation of Christmas morning surprises. Sweet treats, collectable cards and fidget toys will gleefully be shaken loose and swept up by the eager hands of our 6 year old, 3 year old and 2 year old.
Another of the stockings, the fifth, holds all the joy of a first Christmas for our littlest man. It is the start of making precious Christmas memories with our little Finny-boy; it is the hopes and anticipation of who this little one will be in the coming years — perhaps all things Thomas the Tank will fill his stocking as they once did his big brother's. It is new beginnings; new love; new hope; and the new joy he brings to our forever broken hearts.
And then there is the third stocking. The third stocking represents a dichotomy of emotions too hard to adequately explain. Just like my heart, this stocking is both empty and full at the same time — and while the harsh reality is that there will be no toys or treats spilling from it on Christmas morning, it still holds so much. This empty stocking holds all we feel for our Nora. All the joy and sorrow; all the pride and heartache; all the longing and love. So much longing. So much love.
But my favourite part of what these stockings represent is the five. Five.
You see, when you lose a child, the world doesn't always count the one that is missing. The stranger in the street doesn't see the child that should be there. The kids at the park don't see the one they're not able to play with. Even family and friends sometimes discount the child they cannot see. But when there are five stockings, there is no mistaking it; it is right there in red, white and gold — a stocking for each of my children, hanging side by side. And just for a moment, every time I look at them, I get to feel like a mum of five in the real world and not just in my heart. Just for moment it is as if all five of my children are there with us in our home.
I can almost feel all five of them rush past me in the corridor.
I can almost hear their joyous squeals when they discover all that Santa has brought them.
I can almost see all five of them busily unwrapping their presents in front of our tree.