Tears rolled and I wiped them as fast as I could, feeling grateful that he wasn’t paying attention to me. Winston, 2 at the time, was fully immersed in his brand new collection of superhero figurines that he had received from Santa and couldn’t be happier. I, on the other hand, sat on the floor in what seemed to be a puddle of tears, as I packed up our Christmas decorations with a heavy heart.
It was our second Christmas without Ryan and I remember thinking, “Isn’t this supposed to get easier in time? … This sure doesn’t feel easier!” My husband Ryan, Winston’s “Dada,” passed away in 2016, after a 2 year battle with Peripheral T-Cell Lymphoma. I became a widow and single mom at the age of 32 despite all of the seemingly concrete plans we had to grow old together.
So when I got to our stockings, one embroidered with Winston’s name and the other with Mommy, my heavy heart started to feel a bit angry. “Why am I not putting a stocking away that says “Dada?” Why did Winston only get one Christmas with him?” I thought. Honestly, I wanted to run over to the garbage can and throw them away … I was mad.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t. What would that do? How confused would Winston be? So I stopped and just looked at our sweet boy sitting on the floor with a tiny superhero in each hand. His voice was so soft and his tone was joyful. The anger started to ease and I spent a few minutes focusing on how blessed I was to have Winston.
Every child is a blessing but Winston was a very special gift. After 8 months of negative pregnancy tests, Ryan and I conceived him the month before Ryan fell ill. God’s timing was perfect.
My thoughts began to shift and instead of feeling angry, I began to focus on us. Winston and I had a new year ahead of us. The heartache began to turn into hope and I was moved to write.
I took out a card and I wrote a note to myself. I wrote about the accomplishments and joys of the previous year. Then I listed out several wishes I had for myself for 2018 including the big scary goal of starting my own jewelry line. The letter helped my heart and actually made me excited about the year to come.
I then wrote a letter to Winston. I have beat myself up so many times about not keeping a good memory book for him each year so I decided to take a minute to jot down how his year went and any milestones he’d achieved. Then I listed my wishes for him for the year based on things he told me he wanted to do and learn … including things like learn how to complete his United States puzzle, ride his Spider-Man bike and learn the alphabet.
I tucked each of these notes into our stockings and sent them to live in the attic with all of the Christmas decor … to be forgotten until next year.
And to be honest, I did forget about them. We were in for a treat when we began decorating this year and discovered the notes. Winston had no clue why tears were in my eyes as I read his letter out loud. He smiled at the fact that he had learned to put his United Stated puzzle together and that he actually learned all of his letters this year. He shot me the proudest look (just like his Dada would) and waited for me to tell him how proud I was too!!
He had come so far in a year and so had I. Not only did I tackle the goal of starting my business but it was actually doing well. I was so happy I took the time to write those notes and set our intentions for the year.
Now my mind is full of excitement for all of our wishes for 2019. Instead of feeling sad about only having two stockings to hang, I feel blessed. The notes are tucked safely in our stockings hanging on the mantle and I pull them out from time to time when my heart needs a lift.
After this holiday season ends, I’m looking forward to packing things up and writing our special notes. It’s our tradition now. This year I’m going to ask Winston to list his wishes for the year … I already know he wants to learn to read and whistle, which may be a challenge considering he knocked his front tooth out playing with a friend; however, that hasn’t stopped him from practicing!
I’m excited to see where 2019 takes us and to continue our tradition for years to come. I hope one day he will share these notes with his own family and our tradition will live on.
Crystalyn Aucoin is a jewelry designer from New Orleans and the mom of an incredible superhero named Spider-Man (AKA Winston). After a decade in the jewelry industry she decided to start Crystalyn Aucoin Jewelry based on a need she saw in the market for casual fine jewelry and a mission she felt was bigger than herself.
After the loss of her husband Ryan to cancer in 2016, Crystalyn began a journey finding her purpose which included starting her own jewelry line and helping families who are experiencing the burden of cancer.
“Choosing to merge my love for jewelry and my passion to help others has been the catalyst for my healing.” -Crystalyn Aucoin