My First Christmas Without Gretchen

My First Christmas without Gretchen

My wife and I had been married for 40 years when she passed away from breast cancer earlier in 2011.  We have two sons, Erik (31) and Mark (29).  Gretchen made the Christmas holiday season very special for us.  When the boys were young, she would decorate our home, which brought out the Christmas Spirit in all of us.  At the same time, I would put up lights outside our home in an effort to try to match the warmth she put into the decorations inside.

The effort she put into making this a special holiday for us was appreciated by us but probably not as much as we should have now that Gretchen is no longer with us.  She had a special recipe for Christmas cut out cookies that she would make for us.  We would help her ice them and add some Christmas colored sugar sprinkles.  Decorating our Christmas tree was a family affair, although Gretchen put forth most of the effort to make this a focal point of our family room.

The Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers were there because of her.  When the boys were young it was always ahigh pointof Christmas morning when they opened their presents from Santa and us.  By retrospectively looking at this time in our lives, we realize what a special mother and wife Gretchen was.

The 2011 Christmas season is the first we have experienced without Gretchen.  How will this holiday season ever be the same?  The answer is that it never will be.  However, we have to realize that she would want us to enjoy Christmas.  At the same time this will give us the opportunity to remember how important a part of our lives she was for us.

This year I decorated my home, with the help of some close friends, as a memorial to Gretchen.  I knew she would want it that way.  It is difficult to see all these beautiful decorations without thinking of her. But this is part of the grieving and healing process.  Memories are made to be relived.  But they should not cause us to stop how we live our lives.  Again, she would have wanted us to continue to grow and enjoy the days ahead of us.

Gretchen, we love you very much.  We know you are in a better place where cancer does not exist and you are filled with joy forever.  One day, the four of us will be together again so we can share Christmas once again.

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