I hope that my aunt doesn't read this but if you are reading this just know that I know you meant well and I know you wanted it to be a nice gift with a reminder of a loved one during the holidays, but it didn't work as planned.
We were decorating the Christmas tree last night, we had the movie Unaccompanied Minors on (it's a really great Christmas movie, watch it if you haven't seen it), there was hot chocolate and just a happy spirit in the air.
We were almost finished, and I was putting all the ornament boxes away in the closet when I felt something round at the bottom of one box. "Oh," I thought, "we missed one!"
I pulled it out and got stabbed in the heart. Because last year my aunt had given each family member a homemade ornament that contained a photo of Jaden (my brother who died in 2013), with the words "If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever" and the dates of his birth and his death on it.
It surprised me, I was not expecting to be hit with a HEY YOUR BROTHER DIED REMEMBER? AND THERE WAS NOTHING YOU CAN DO YOU WERE SO HELPLESS TOO BAD YOU DIDN'T LOVE HIM ENOUGH OR SOMETHING during that happy time. And it stole my breath away and I had to go into the bedroom and cry and cry, and then dry my red eyes and finish decorating the Christmas tree, apologizing to the kids who I don't think have ever seen me cry before.
When we finished the tree it hit me again and I went into the bedroom and I was crying until I started hyperventilating, I couldn't breathe right for what felt like minutes, it was almost to the point where I was going to call Ryan to help me, but I grabbed a jacket of Jaden's I have and I hugged it to my chest hard and closed my eyes and told myself to calm down, calm down, calm down.
And eventually I did, and then Ryan came to check on me, and I must have looked quite a mess, silently crying with my eyes shut and clutching a child's sport jacket for dear life. We talked about it, about the last Christmas I spent with Jaden, about how the ornament wasn't about him or me, it was about my aunt trying to deal with things and trying to help us. The heart of it was in the right place but it was such a wrong thing to give out.
We decided to destroy it. I didn't want it with my Jaden stuff, and I definitely didn't want it back in the Christmas ornament pool, and I also didn't want to throw it in the garbage as it was, with the photo and the words and everything, so we tore it apart into tiny pieces and I felt better.
And yeah, that was probably the worst gift I've ever received.