I couldn’t do it alone.

I knew I had to decorate the tree. I knew I had to decorate the house. We have Hannah, and she still wants to celebrate Christmas. She should. She ought to have a childhood that includes celebrating Christmas, even if my heart is broken. I know there’s lots of times I’m no longer here as I used to be, and I know I don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel right. But I also know that I owe it to myself and to Hannah, and to Dragon, to keep going. I lost one of my bear cubs. But I still have another little cub. And she needs to learn how to make it in this big, scary world, even when bad things happen. Why do I have to be the one to teach her how to do this? I am her mom.

So I knew I had to decorate the tree, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

Are you one of those people who have trouble asking for help? I don’t know if it’s pride or embarrassment at showing that we can’t do it by ourselves. I guess I used to have trouble asking for help, but when you are drowning, you quickly learn to ask those still on the boat to throw you a rope. So Saturday morning, I sent a text out to a few friends: “I wanted to see if anyone would want to come over and help us put up our tree and xmas decorations this weekend? I think it would be too hard for us to do this by ourselves.”

I felt bad doing it… I know December is busy. I didn’t want anyone to feel obligated. I thought about posting my request on Facebook, so that no one person would feel obligated, but that felt way too open. Way too desperate.

So I sent the text, and waited a few moments, kind of holding my breath. What if no one could come? Worse yet, what if they came just because they felt they had to? What if Daniel and Hannah and I had to hang all those ornaments alone? The one that says in blue, “Baby’s First Christmas.” Or the one Hannah gave Dragon from our weekend at the San Diego Zoo? How about the one with the light-up Rudolph that Dragon picked out? Or the stars Carla gave us last year to remember our two Stargazers? The three of us putting up these memory-filled ornaments in stony silence sounded too glum for words. I held my phone and sighed.

Then, Maria texted back: Yes! We’d love to! We’re free today 2:30-4:30 or anytime tmrw after church.

Then Cindy: We can join tomorrow.

Then Kelly: After church tomorrow sounds good.

Then Sandee: Sure would love to!

Lifelines. Lifepreservers. Rescue tubes. Flotation devices. Our friends came. The men kept Daniel company in the backyard with smoked meats and cigars. The kids had cookies and hot cocoa. Moms had coffee, wine, and cheese. We got the tree up. We decorated the mantle. We laughed at the homemade photo ornaments from Christmases gone by. We hung the ornament with the words in blue, Baby’s First Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Dragon. Keeping you in my heart.