Friday, December 13, 2013

Why his Christmases are blue

My youngest son, Stephen, hates the song, "Blue Christmas."

I'm a big Elvis fan, so I love the song "Blue Christmas."

I sometimes sing it randomly at appropriate and inappropriate times, without ever paying attention to the lyrics.

Yesterday, when a friend shared this link of an amazing, 16-year-old Elvis impersonator singing the song, I couldn't help but share it, too.

"I can never get away from 'Blue Christmas,'" my boy said after it popped up on his Facebook page.

And then I have to remember why. It's more than just mindless words to him. He takes each sentence to heart.

My wife and I have grieved, recovered, but continue to grieve the loss of our oldest son, Devin, who was killed Aug. 7, 2011, by a driver answering her cell phone. We've slipped into the "new normal" and go on with life, with a hole in our hearts. I've cried and ranted and wrote a book to help heal my pain. I give distracted driving presentations so his death was not in vain.

And yet, through all of this, I sometimes forget my son and daughter -- Stephen and Ashlie -- lost a brother. It's not that I really forget. It's never far from our minds. We are painfully reminded of it every holiday, and it's never far from our minds the other days of the week, either. We have grieved and comforted each other together, and grieved privately in our own ways, but I can talk about losing my son, and go on with my life and grief, and not stop to think how painfully real this still is for my other kids.

Stephen hates that song I love because it reminds him of Devin.

"I'll have a Blue Christmas without you ... I'll be so blue, just thinkin' about you ... "

There is no "fair" in losing a child, or a sibling losing a brother. There is nothing good in that. Christmas was a time Devin and Stephen would spend countless hours playing mindless video games. This year, the day after Christmas, we will spend a week in the Dells with my older brother, who is coming for a visit with his family.

"I'll never have what you have," my son told me once.

That hurts my heart, and I am so sorry for not thinking of that more often.

It's not fair.

This will be the third Christmas Devin is not physically with us. The first year, I don't even think we finished decorating the tree, and maybe only turned the lights on once. Last year was better. Last summer was better yet. I felt, for the first time in a long time this summer, the joy of sunshine on my face. This Christmas will be two years, four months and 18 days since Devin was killed.

God, I miss him.

And I hate that my youngest son has to miss him, too.

And I have to remember that.

This Christmas I will celebrate the birth of Jesus, who I believe to be my Savior. And I am comforted Devin is in Heaven with him. I know Devin is in Heaven with him. I have seen so many signs, which have given me great comfort. I know I will see him again.

Like 5,000 other families this year alone who have lost loved ones to distracted driving, we will celebrate Christmas with smiles and tears and memories.

But God, I still miss him.

And I need to remember how much Stephen and everyone else misses him, too.