by Karen Butler
My daughter, Courtney Elizabeth Butler, died at the age of 16 in 2007. During the holidays, we keep a candle lit beside her picture on tables where other decorations are placed. We still hang her stocking and place notes to her in it on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we come across charms, trinkets, etc. that remind us of her and put those in there as well. We also take a holiday arrangement and place it at her headstone for the season.
The holidays are always tender, and my emotions and energy are more drained. I try not to over commit myself and avoid large, boisterous crowds. Many evenings I sit quietly in the candlelight and reflect on past holiday memories of which she was a part.
Courtney drowned attempting to help two friends who had jumped into a swollen river to take a thrill ride on the currents and were pulled into the undercurrent. She posthumously received the Carnegie Medal for Heroism for her act of bravery.