Jacob passed away December 27. We are coming up on one year without him. I understand the hyperbole. I understand that he’s likely with us in spirit. I want to believe it all. I do most of the time. One year ago, Jacob was alive. One year ago, Jacob could cry and laugh. One year ago, Jacob could talk to me. One year ago, Jacob could hug his mom. One year ago, Jacob could listen to his sister and offer his loving feedback. One year ago, we still had hope.
As a family, we staged our Christmas tree. We hung Chanukah lights. We felt the spirit. We felt blanketed in the warmth of the season of perpetual hope. On December 1, 2020, I didn’t think that as the year rang anew, Jacob would be gone. The signs were there. I still wouldn’t change anything. I still wouldn’t have done anything differently. I held out hope that he would heal. This is the attitude that has carried the Butzes. We never ever gave up.
I asked my wife if we should continue the traditions we’ve done since we met. I’m not feeling “Christmasy” this year. The season of perpetual hope is dimmed. It’s extinguished. Sunday night I went to my sister’s house. She was hanging lights on her perfectly symmetrical, large Fraser Fir. Her stockings adorned both main floor fireplaces. The smell of spruce filled the air. By all accounts, Christmas is here.
We discussed my desire to “forget” Christmas. Hallie didn’t like the idea. While Hallie understands my heavy heart, she also knows, like only a sister can, the need for light. Chanukah and Christmas both carry these ideals of light. Our bodies need light. Our bodies need light to survive. Our bodies need warmth for that comfort. She asked me to reconsider. I did.
Naomi and I spoke to our grief counselor (we’ll give her the initials JS because why not) about this. The timing was perfect. JS agreed with the importance of the need for light. She came up with an amazing idea. Invite our family and friends to place a meaningful ornament on our tree. It’s the perfect idea. What a better way to honor Jacob’s love. Here are some ideas for #ButzesBaubles
- Bring over an ornament that reminds you of Jacob
- The ornament does not need to be anything extravagant. It just needs to be something that brings peace and offers a reminder
- Have fun with it. Jacob wasn’t always serious. He was fun and playful. Jacob enjoyed a night out at Brick Street as much as he enjoyed talks about economics and stocks
- If coming to our house isn’t possible, feel free to dress your tree with the beautiful ornament
- Start a tradition to honor other loved ones we’ve lost
- Feel free to send an ornament as well if it’s easier
This year is different. We are nearing Jacob’s Yahrzeit. This is inevitable. Anticipatory dread doesn’t exist with me. We wake up every day with this harsh reality. Please consider doing something nice for someone else. Tip a barista a little more. Smile at someone in passing. PRACTICE EMPATHY. Really practice it.
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