I Run Away At Christmas


I can’t tell you how I felt the first Christmas after the death of Anne and Paul. I don’t remember. I was too numb. All I know is that we avoided Christmas or escaped as often as we could. It just wasn’t the same joyful time of kids’ laughter and celebration without them. How can you sit there cheerfully around the Christmas tree with two children missing? I’m sure we shared the occasion in some fashion because our survivor Paul still had to have a Christmas but it was painful, not joyful.

I have escaped Christmas at home so many times since that day and have travelled again this year. It has been many, many years since I have put up a Christmas tree. What would be the point? It doesn’t hurt as much now but the Christmas spirit I had when I had a family is now dead. If I had been able to escape the minute the Christmas carols and all the seasonal commercialism began, I would have done so, only to return when it was over.

A few times I remained to participate in family Christmas, mostly with my sister who lives in the same city as I do. We had a festive meal for a few hours, opened some gifts and that was it. No long, merry parties. More often I have joined other groups for potlucks around the season, usually people who are alone like me. I remember the years I chose to work so colleagues could take time off with their families. Some years we had four consecutive days off at Christmas. It was a terribly long, lonely stretch when I would watch a lot of television and wish I could work or find some other distraction.

I never go back to join my brothers who live in Sudbury. Christmas is a time to celebrate with family. I just don’t want to be there with all my siblings who are surrounded by their families while I feel very alone because my family is gone.

As I sit  here on the Malaccan in Puerto Vallarta, this December 2015, the waves are crashing against the seawall. I am reflecting on a Christmas that my son Paul, my husband and myself spent after the loss of Anne and Adam. We were here in Nuevo Vallarta for the two weeks of the Christmas holiday. I was watching Paul like a hawk as he swam in the rough waves. I would not take my eyes off of his bobbing head because it was difficult to relocate him if I did. He was very good at handling the big waves and helping other boys get past them with their kayaks so they could paddle freely. Such memories are vivid, beautiful, and painful.

It does not feel like Christmas here in the tropical climate. There is no commercialism, hardly any decorations, no Christmas music playing, no snow or cold or Christmas trees. For me Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. I will attend church and spend the rest of the day on the beach.

It is not as painful as it used to be, because I make it so.

Merry Christmas to all, especially to those who are suffering.

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  1. Dear Helene…I cannot put in words how your stories touch my heart. I try writing comforting words for you but cannot. I type then delete…type then delete again and again. You are in my thoughts and heart not only at this time of year but so often. I have spoken about you to many? I am reminded of that terrible day whenever I drive by the crosses on the hwy to work, and drive on Brookside. Take care of yorself and keep moving forward.and fortunate. Enjoy the beach and sunshine. Your friend from Chemmy xoxo

  2. La Belle Helene,

    Every Time I read your blogs It brings me back to my oldest Son Maurice ( Moe} in 1996. And Then Two Years After In A Head on Collision with an egg delivery man my daughters husband Perry who was delivering the Ottawa Sun at the time Burnt to his Death In the truck he was driving.I watched my daughter not be the same for many many years after,he had been her Soul Mate. And her Brother and Herself were very close. I watched them Grieved and then Of Course My Own Grief, I had to get help cause I was a recovering Alcoholic. I stayed sober after all of the senseless painful lost. Went To AA and To Bereavement for for Families. Our Families grieved a lot. My Oldest Son And My Son In Law Are So Deeply Missed.I will never forget seeing grown men at their funeral be so quiet and respecting, to our family. My Son Maurice( Moe ) And Son In Law Perry Are So Missed And Were So Loved Rest In Peace Moe And Perry <3

    I am so glad Helene that you have shared your pain with us. I needed to go back also And I hope you do not mine Me Sharing. It is so Healthy To Share Our Pain And Our Loss.One Day We Will Be Together Again.Now They Watch Over Us With Lost Of Love. Be in our Hearts For ever God Bless Moe, Perry, Adam,And Anne <3<3<3

  3. My heart goes out to you Hélène, as I cannot begin to imagine your pain….you have found ways to cope over the years, mostly by doing good for others. May 2016 bring true joy to your life and may our friendship always mean we are here for each other. Love you my friend.

  4. Dear Helene,
    You are indeed a much to be admired lady. To have gone through something so major, tragic and life-changing as the loss of your children and so willing to share your tragedy and experience with others is admirable beyond words. Having met you at Cody you are indeed such a positive, lovely lady. Dan

  5. I love to read how you have grown and flourished over the years, with the assistance of groups…friends and self reflection. You truly do inspire those that read your experiences… I hang on every word…and never want the blog to end…

  6. Hi Helene, I do not know you but I have heard your story. I drive everyday to work and drive by where your son on Brookside was taken. My husband was a responding fireman at that time. He is no longer with the fire dept. for that reason. That was the last call he attended. I also drive where your 2 other children were taken and I say a silent prayer every time at both areas. To have the courage to get up everyday after surviving such tragedy is a huge accomplishment. My heart breaks for you but my hat is off to you to be able to survive. God only gives us what we can handle but in my opinion he gave you more than anybody can handle. I thank you for sharing your story and may you have the strength to push forward. Existing is not enough, you have to live. Thoughts and prayers go out to you.

  7. Dear Helene,

    I think of you and your family often, we shared a hospital room when you had Paul and I has my daughter Natalie. Every time I go to Sudbury and pass the crosses on the hwy I remember that day hearing it on the news such a tragedy, my heart goes out to you. I know you must have more rough days than good days but if at all possible please try and think positive. Keep moving forward and thank you for sharing. God Bless.

  8. Helene,
    I remember when my mom got the call about your beautiful children and then again when she got the call about Paul.
    I see your pictures and posts on Claire’s Facebook page. Life can be horrible and unfair.
    I couldn’t realize your pain until my husband passed away in 2005. My life stood still.
    No one understands loss until you go through it, fortunately or unfortunately! We all have to do what we have to do to get through our loss.
    I’m so glad to read your posts and hear that you are managing…
    Always in my thoughts and prayers

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