Thursday, December 26, 2013



December 26, 2013




I survived.  We all did.  And I am thankful.


A friend wrote me a short letter and gave it to me on Christmas Eve.  In it she expressed the hope that we would do more than endure the day, but that we would find real meaning to take away and even create some memories.  She reminded me that the very first Christmas was rooted in loss, when God willingly gave up His Son for us.  I appreciated that.  I appreciated my friend’s sentiment, too, although a bit of me was tempted to think, “Well, she hasn’t been in mourning at Christmas, so she can’t really tell me how to feel.”  And that’s true.  But, I was appreciative, just the same.


I was reading an article the other day in which the writer was sharing that she and her husband had recently lost an unborn baby – a couple of inches long, she said, and a boy, so they were able to name him.  She must have been, what – 3, 4 months along then?  But she made this comment, “I cannot mourn, for he is experiencing the delights of Heaven” or something to that effect.  That bothered me and still bothers me.  You do mourn and you should mourn even when you are happy for your loved one at the same time.  As Christians, our mourning is tempered by the knowledge that our parting is temporary and that our loved one is experiencing amazing things now.  But we hurt just the same. I firmly believe that to deny ourselves that time is incredibly hurtful and will only delay the healing process.  Of course, I say “healing” like a person recovers from death like they do an injury.  I’m not so sure that ever happens, really.


And Christmastime makes it worse.  It’s a time when we feel most keenly the shadow of separation.


Will chose to butcher two of our dead deer on Christmas Eve.  Thankfully, two of his friends came to help with that messy job.  My parents arrived mid-afternoon.  A couple of hours later, Will, David, Lizzie, and I headed off to the Christmas Eve service while the others stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.  I wanted to be at church that night.  And I was doing ok, until afterwards, when a woman came up to me and hugged me (I got lots of hugs that night) and said, “I know it hurts.  I’m just so sorry.”  And then I was blinking back tears in a hurry.


I was given several cards that night.  I opened them later and was astounded to find that we had been given money by several.  That made me very thankful.  Money concerns are near the top of my “worry” list it seems, now that I am  responsible for it all.


We swung by Paul’s grave.  I had noticed the other day that his tree had tipped over and I wanted to upright it for Christmas.  I also wanted to talk to him.  But when we drove in there, I realized that the tipped-over tree was buried by the 6” of snow we got Sunday morning. And I wasn’t wearing boots.  It never occurred to me that I would have to tramp through snow to get to Paul’s stone.  So I just sat in the van and looked.  Really, his stone and all the others in the cemetery looked quite beautiful with snow drifted up beside them.  Many of the graves, including Paul’s, have solar lights.  Driving past, those pretty lights reflected on the snow.  It’s so still and breathtaking – and terribly sad at the same time.  Each stone represents at least one broken heart, I would imagine.


And Christmas was bearable.  I was so touched that my parents came to me.  I just don’t think I could have gone anywhere this year.  I wanted to be home, in the house Paul and I shared – our haven.  My mom is recovering from two surgeries she had a week apart last month, but she still came and slept on my couch (with my cat, who is inordinately fond of her for some reason).  My dad bought a cot for himself and set it up in the living room.


My phone started going off in the early hours of the morning, which made me laugh.  My friends were texting me, making sure I knew I was in their thoughts and prayers this first Christmas alone.


I made it through – the chaos of gift opening, making lunch with my dad, and the clean-up.  We all watched Ben’s new “Despicable Me 2” movie and laughed.  But I noticed that my ear kept straining to hear Paul’s distinctive laugh.  He loved the first Despicable movie and would have gotten a kick out of this one.


Tears did threaten at one point.  Paul’s mom had found a tea cup and saucer for me, painted to look like blue spatterware. I didn’t expect gifts from anyone on that side of the family, but she wrote me a sweet note and that about undid me.  One of these days the two of us are going to have to talk, I suppose.


The boys bought me gifts, which was a first.  Paul always picked out gifts for me that had the kids’ names on the tag.  They did really well.  The boys got me a new cookie jar (since Ellie shattered the ceramic lid on the one Paul bought me last Christmas!), a keychain, and to my surprise, Will found a sweatshirt for me at Cabela’s in Omaha when he was there last weekend.  I had commented a few weeks ago that I was really starting to like the pink winter camo prints I was seeing.  I have tumbled so far into redneckville…but he found me just the perfect, comfy sweatshirt with that print, guessed at the size and got it right on the nose!  I guess it’s good preparation for when he finds a girl someday.


And then this morning when my parents were leaving, I struggled.  Dad said, “Take care of them” to me and that was what he always said to Paul when we’d say good-bye.  Now it’s my job to take care of them.  The tears fell then and all the blinking in the world wouldn’t stop them.


Today I’m taking down Christmas.  I just want it to be over, even though it wasn’t a dreadful holiday, really.  One friend sent me a message on Christmas Eve and told me that even in the midst of grief one will find windows of  normality and she wished that for me this year.  I had windows and I was thankful for that.


I am looking forward to turning the calendar to 2014.  Well, I need to buy a calendar first in order to do that, I suppose!  That’s on my list, anyway.  My mom said that when 2013 started she told herself she wasn’t going to be superstitious just because it was a “13” year – she vowed it would still be a great year.  Hah!  But I’m looking forward to leaving the year behind anyway.


Only a lifetime of Christmases to go.  Others will be better, I’m sure.  A few may even be more difficult.  We’ll figure out what works for us and how to celebrate without Paul. 


I’ve wondered if there are Christmas celebrations in Heaven.  I think there must be.  Do they happen on Dec. 25?  Maybe not.  But then again – why not?  Surely they all know what is happening on earth and would want to echo that celebration in Heaven.  Christmas was a temporary loss for Heaven, but they must rejoice because of what that Baby meant for the world and then for Heaven, as a result.  It was a big play in God’s plan of redemption and it had to have been a cause for rejoicing then and now, too.


This year Christmas stings.  But a day will come, whether here or in Heaven, when it won’t anymore.  I’m looking forward to that.


Christmas Past - 2000 - not the greatest picture of Paul or me in my big glasses...but we were together, which was the important thing - we were both 29 here














































1 comment:

  1. I totally agree that grieving is right and godly. I have lost 4 babies to early miscarriage and I mourned them all. Yes, they are in heaven, but I'm still sad they aren't here with us.