December 12th was the Worldwide Candle Lightning ceremony which is sponsored by The Compassionate Friends organization. At 7pm, your local time, they asked that you light a candle for a child that died so that around the world, there will be 24 hours of light in remembrance .I posted their “poster” on my Facebook page asking friends and family to join in the ceremony.
We have a Jordan candle that we bought in 2008 specifically for the candle lighting ceremony. A couple of hours before 7 pm sadness started to seep in and the ceremonial candle lighting felt more onerous than comforting. Mark and I got were out most of the afternoon running errands and the thought of one light flickering to honor Jordan made me think of the first year we lit the candle. Mark the girls and I sat numbly and cried, while Merrick stood pacing as the candle flickered. Merrick finally asked to be excused and escaped to his room. Last year was less ceremonial. I lit the candle on my own and when one of the kids asked why, I told them, “It’s for the candle lighting ceremony to honor children who died.” From each of them I received an, “Oh,” as they went about their way.
I didn’t want to light Jordan’s candle if it meant adding to our sadness. Many days Mark or I will light the candle when we are missing Jordan and have no place to focus our longing. The flame gives us peace. We’ve both held our daughters after they’ve lit Jordan’s candle because they miss him so much. Each time the lit candle was a point of comfort and connection. But on the ceremonial day it started to make me feel like I was slipping deeper into mourning.
Anxiety about lighting the candle started to bother me. I finally told myself, “You don’t have to wait until 7. It’s your house, light it when you’re ready.” I also felt like that one candle wasn’t enough to illuminate the spirit of Jordan. Jordan loved Christmas and as our house slowly takes on the air of the season the spirit of Christmas needed to be intertwined with Jordan’s spirit so I could imagine him singing Christmas carols in his silly falsetto voice and feeling him close. I gathered all the tea light holders that we have and placed them on the mantel of the fireplace and around our family room. Well before 7 I lit them all including Jordan’s candle. Mark came into the house after shoveling snow and said, “Oh it looks nice. You lit the candles already?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t wait until 7 it was making me too sad. I figured it’s 7 o’clock somewhere. Plus, Jordan needed more than one candle.”
“Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I miss so much. Why isn’t he here?”
“I miss him too. We’re going to be alright.”
I nodded my head and gazed at Jordan’s candle. As I felt sadness filling me I reminded myself, “You’re doing this to honor Jordan. If it makes you too sad, then don’t do it.”
I thought of all the ways I kept myself afloat when I went to doctors’ appointments for lupus. Every time I walked in the door of the hospital I reminded myself, “Remember how you’re feeling right now, no matter what the lab work says you won’t come out feeling sicker than you did when you went in.”
I used the same logic for the Candle Lighting ceremony. “Remember how you’ve felt today. You miss Jordan but today has been okay.”
I intently gazed at Jordan’s candle reminding myself that I’d lit it because I wanted our family to honor his memory not to bring on additional sadness. The flames flickered and I thought of other children I knew who were gone but forever loved: Dougie, Dawn, Paige, Marcus, Larry Jr., Rory, Max, Hudson, Henry, Heather, Trina, Matt and so many others. After a sweeping look around the room at all the candles burning and a, “I love you Jordan,” I got up and checked on dinner. The candles burned in the background filling the room with light.