This next season of the year is going to be full and busy. In many ways that’s wonderful, life giving, and celebratory in a way that only the holiday season can be. But it also will bring up hard emotions. I was talking to my sister this morning and we were reminiscing about the holidays. How thankful we are that our parents made them so special for us as kids (and adults) and for the memories we hold on to that drive our new family traditions and experiences. My mama was really good at holidays. Like really, really good. And whether it was just the 6 of us or a house full of neighbors and friends, each moment was shaped by her love for Jesus and the hospitality it brought out in her.

I’m thankful for those memories because she’s no longer here. It makes hosting thanksgiving dinner, putting up the tree, or eating fondue on NYE, that much more special; as if a part of my mama is still here for these holidays that she loved so much.  It’s also what makes missing George Mason so hard. There aren’t special moments written into my story that can be remembered and shared with others over the thanksgiving table. I don’t have sweet pictures in my mind of his first taste of stuffing and gravy. I don’t have a Christmas list to check off. What I do have is a stocking with his name on it and no clue what to do with it. I have a hole in my heart and a pit in my stomach as we create traditions and make memories with Audrey Nole because he’s not here. There will always be bits of my mama throughout my home but how does that translate to my son? How do pieces of his 16 hours get weaved into our tapestry? How will those outside of my immediate circle know and love him and remember him - because Adam and I will never forget - when all we have is a perfectly formed and created baby who only made 16 hours worth of fingerprints on this world?

I’m getting ready to do thanksgiving prep. There will be chopping and sautéing. There will be messes made and messes cleaned up, just to start again. There will be spatulas licked and inquisitive Audrey Nole commentary to go with it all. But there won’t be George Mason; at least not in the way I had hoped and dreamed. I remember how precious Audrey’s first thanksgiving was and how excited I was for her second (it was a bit of a disappointment after her first haha). This would be George’s second. He would be talking, walking, and thoroughly getting into the guts of all of the things. There would be 2 sections of the Christmas tree with an overload of ornaments. There would be 20 tiny fingers making their imprint on our menu and our tree. But instead there are only 10. And only 1. And instead of the sweet sound of a new talker and sibling convos, it will be me and Audrey Nole. And we will probably talk about how much we miss George. And Audrey will talk to her daddy about how to set the table and tell him he’s doing it all wrong. And those moments, those are the ones that hurt the most. Where I miss him the most. And where I would literally give anything to have my almost 2 year old here with me.

I can’t change the hurt. I can’t take away this loss. Trust me, I would if I could. But what I can do is take that love of Jesus that I’ve been learning so much more about and pass it on, just like my mama. I will open my home. I will talk about my son. I will weep when necessary. And because it keeps crossing my mind, I’m going to pray for each of the people that knew my son in that hospital on his day. That they would somehow spread tiny pieces of my son throughout their own stories. That God would have worked in their lives through George Mason’s. And that as they go on caring for sick babies, they would remember the one almost 2 years ago who touched their lives in a way that I cannot even fathom. It sounds almost selfish to think that way, but when I consider George’s life and his short time here, I can only see God at work. Because George completed the work of his Savior in only 16 hours. And I may never fully know what that means, but it was 16 worth living. And those 16 hours are worth any pain that comes from their end. Because loving George Mason is one of the greatest privileges of my life.