‘There’s a Christmas tree. There’s a gingerbread man.’ But it’s what she said next that took my breath away. ‘And there’s Parker,’ my daughter recited.’

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“As a parent of two children in Heaven, anytime I hear their names, my heart skips a beat.

I was busy doing dishes as my 5-year-old daughter was admiring my decorated Christmas cookies. Baking is one of our special activities as we bond over cookie dough and a love for wearing chocolate on our faces. She began naming off the cookies, ‘There’s a Christmas tree. There’s a gingerbread man. There’s an ornament.’ I was only half-listening, but it’s what she said next that took my breath away.

‘And there’s Parker,’ my daughter recited.

She continued announcing the cookie shapes when I stopped her to ask about her triplet brother who died just two months after they were born.

‘Mommy, he’s the angel!,’ my child proudly announced.

Courtesy of Stacey Skrysak

As I looked at the plate of cookies, sure enough, there was a cookie angel I had decorated. I smiled at my daughter as my eyes welled up with tears.

Whether you’ve lost a child, a parent, or any loved one, the holidays are a difficult time of year. It’s hard to be full of joy when there is a sense of emptiness filling your heart. It’s difficult to watch my daughter open presents and leave notes for Santa, knowing there should be three children in our family room come Christmas morning. When I was pregnant, I envisioned the chaos of the holiday season trying to juggle triplets. The memories of the early days would be something my husband and I would laugh about for years. Reality was a stark contrast to our dreams as I delivered my triplets more than 17 weeks premature. Within two months, two of my children passed away, and we suddenly were faced with unbearable grief as we tried to stay strong for our lone surviving triplet. But as the years go by, I find moments like this one that bring me happiness and peace.

Courtesy of Stacey Skrysak

It’s been more than five years since I lost Parker and Abby, and I’ve realized that it’s OK to be happy. For a long time, I felt guilty smiling or laughing, knowing my heart will forever be broken with grief.

And while life moves forward, those of us grieving parents never forget our children who are no longer here.

But, as the holiday season arrives, I no longer dread the holiday parties and traditions. Instead, I try to picture happiness among the sadness. I imagine Parker and Abby dancing in our daughter’s dreams, and I think of our angels on Christmas morning, celebrating with us in spirit.

After wiping away my tears, I sat down at the kitchen table with my daughter. I handed her the angel cookie and told her that Parker is always with us.

She smiled as she took a bite and said, ‘I know Mommy. Parker and Abby are in Heaven, making sure we have the best day ever.’ It’s something I told my sweet daughter last year when she asked why her brother and sister were not here.

They may not be in our arms, but our two children are always with us during the holiday season, and every day of our lives. As my daughter proudly tells people, they are making sure we have the best day ever, every single day.”

Courtesy of Stacey Skrysak

This story was written by Stacey Skrysak, an award winning television journalist based in Illinois. You can follow her on Facebook. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more about Stacey’s triplets:

‘I pictured a perfect Christmas. I was pregnant with triplets and expected a chaotic holiday. But reality set in more than 4 months prior to my due date.’

‘I walked into my daughter’s room and instantly spotted that paper from the past. Seeing the 7 digits and extension took my breath away.’

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