It’s 64 days until Christmas. Call me crazy, but usually by this time I’ve got Christmas music playing, The Christmas decorations down from storage and waiting (impatiently) to be put out. Lights either on the house or will be within the week. I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year.
Or it was.
Christmas takes on a whole new meaning and set of expectations when there’s someone missing. I don’t know how it is for others, I can only speak for myself, from my own experience.
Last Christmas, we talked of what Philip would be doing this Christmas. We talked of how we would line the kids all up by the tree for the annual picture, and there wouldn’t be 5 grandchildren, but 6. As things would go, there will be 6 smiling children under the tree this year, as there’s a new little one to be coming the week before Christmas this year, my niece. But not my little one. I wonder if I’ll ever look at a picture of “all” the kids by the tree, and never see the babies that are missing. I doubt it.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of good cheer, generosity, smiling, happiness, deepened faith in Jesus. But anticipating the holiday only deepens my pain. It accentuates the pain of the little boy who will be missing in our photos and memories this Christmas season.
And the anticipation is already killing me…64 days out.
The girls wanted to listen to Christmas music this morning, thus the thoughts of this holiday. I think of the first time I turn on Christmas music every year and the magical feelings I’d get year in and year out : Joy,excited anticipation,optimism, a sort of “magical” feeling. Today, they were gone, dead in a sense. Replaced by dread, tears, fear, and pain. Somehow, for the first time in my life, I don’t want Christmas to come. I don’t want to count down the days. The lights aren’t on my house, and I don’t know if they will be. The decorations aren’t anywhere ready. And the music (except for one CD) is all boxed up. Honestly, I’d rather skip the whole season. It seems to me, that the pain will just be too much.
Pain and memories already sneak up on me on “little” holidays like memorial day and labor day. Even other people’s birthdays. But then I think Christmas…and it just feels like a beyond ginormous mountain I just can’t climb. Not this year. Not right now.
I am sure fellow bereaved mamas feel this same way. I should have a baby learning to sit up and rock on his hands and knees. We should be looking forward to him starting to crawl, watching a gummy smile envelop his face when I enter the room, start to again sleep at night, Listen to coos and be up to my ears in spit up and diaper changes.
But I am not.
The path that God has chosen for me, is not to have gummy smiles and a cooing baby for now. And while His plan is good, and I know that with absolute certainty, it doesn’t make the pain of not having him here with me disappear. Time doesn’t heal pain. God does, in His timing.
I don’t think that people always understand grief. In fact, I’d be inclined to say too many don’t understand it at all. Myself included prior to 6 months ago. What I don’t think people understand is this: Grief cannot exist where love didn’t exist first. Deep love will equal deep grief and mourning….its because of love that grief is what it is, and can bring healing.
People tell me to use my love for Philip and to shower it on my other children. While that sounds like a wonderful thought, and I get the meaning of it…loving a child who isn’t here on earth is just different than most realize.
It seems that some people think I love Philip more because I speak of him more than my other children. It is not an issue of who I “love” more, but rather that I love each of my children deeply, but in individual ways. And for the ones here, in my house, I am able to tell them I love them. Hug them. Speak their love languages from kisses and hugs to shopping to reading a book or watching a movie on the couch together. My expression of love is different for them, just as it is different for my babies who live with the angels. My expression of love for my heaven born babies, must be more of a legacy driven love than a physical form. Showering love due to one one child, on another, isn’t going to make me love any one of them more or less. Love is individualized. My love for my children, My love for my husband, For my parents or in-laws, For my friends… I love each of these people differently. Love is not ordinary or universal.
So how do I handle Christmas? I do it the same way I handled yesterday and will handle tomorrow. I don’t. I let God take the wheel, and I ride along. I trust that whatever is around the next bend, He will get me ready for. If I lean on myslef to get through this season…I won’t. But I know that with God, even Christmas is possible. Joy at christmas. Smiles. Maybe even giggles. And maybe those Christmas lights after all…