Thursday, November 15, 2012

Last Christmas

Last night I started decorating our Christmas tree. One by one I took the bins off the shelf in the garage, having no memory at all of putting them there last year. Maybe mom or dad put them away. Probably. They still lived here when we took the stuff down so that's what happened.

I have very few memories of Christmas last year. I remember sitting in the hallway outside my room before the kids woke up. I sat with my head on my knees and just asked for strength to get through the day. I was still in shock then, which is a common blessing in the aftermath of a sudden death. I felt numb, unable to go to the depths that I knew were lurking in the distance. There weren't any tears that day, which I constantly felt guilty about. People sent texts and messages but I couldn't focus on anything. I pressed my head harder against my knees and kept repeating, "Just get me through today, just today before the pain takes over." I remember planning the day in my head while I was sitting there, imagining the kids' excitement about presents, then getting them dressed to be with family. "Just for today..." There was such a long scary road ahead that I didn't want to start yet. "Not today, not Christmas Day, Lord, please."

Suddenly I heard somebody wake up and start squealing. My thoughts vanished. Autopilot kicked in. I'm a parent. I can't stay here. Have to get up, get moving. So I did. Autopilot served me well that day. It served me well for quite a few days.

It's imperative that you hear this-even in the foggiest of days when I didn't consciously seek God out, He showed up. I tell you this because often people ask how we got through those days. How did we get through Christmas? The answer is not that I had some great faith. Not at all. I was held together by others' faith and prayers. People interceded for me when I couldn't form coherent thoughts. When I had no desire to pray for fear of what might happen once I started to feel anything. Plus there was an awareness in my heart that Sean was able to hear my prayers and I wasn't ready to talk to him at all. I was so mad, felt so betrayed, so abandoned.

That night we drove around the neighborhood to show the kids the lights for the thousandth time. I thought.


Christ came.

He was born.

He came to save us from ourselves, what we do, what we have the potential to do.

We have a chance.

It brought me a deep sense of peace.
Not all people have the chance to cling to the very breathe of life He came to give. I can. I have nothing else to hope in. Nothing else to save me or protect me. He is for me this year. Every year. He came for me.

That day I started feeling peace. Not happiness, not closure. Nothing even close to either of those. But there was peace.

I consciously paid attention to the details of each ornament last night. There are some from my college days, one of the bonfire. Today is the anniversary of when bonfire fell. I lived near the campus that year and woke up to sirens and helicopters. A very different tragedy than the one we lived through but I can grasp a bit more what family members must have felt. It's no coincidence that I saw it last night. Another reminder that life is fragile. It isn't a given, it isn't promised. It's time to make the most of what we have been given. For me this means enjoying the lights, the excitement of Christmas with the kids but also being grateful for the Truth that He came to us to save us. To give us the promise that one day the pain will stop and we will get to be with Him forever. If I can focus on that leading up to Christmas I will be able to to enjoy the other things.

Ty has been so sick. Last night's decorating was a good break from tending to him. (He was asleep when I started the tree.) He is finally able to keep liquids down so I'm hoping he's on the mend. Nothing like a virus to keep you praying right? Y'all have a happy Sunday.


We Three Smiths + 1 said...

Oh my...last Christmas was tough. This Christmas will be the words of Rustin. I've had bonfire on my heart today. I remember all of the sirens in my dreams. It seems like yesterday and then it feels like a lifetime ago. I can only believe that is how the Christmas of 2011 will begin to feel for you.

You have grown so much this year and you have so much faith...even if it is as small as a mustard seed...look how far it can get you.

I love you, Sweet Mary! I hope Ty kicks that nasty bug...ick. Its everywhere I hear!

Love Charlie's Turkey story...that is awesome!!!

Allison said...

Thanks for this post. I'm thankful for you. That you do have a great faith. That you cling to the Lord trusting that He is who He says He is. Come on Lord! We need you!
Prayers and more prayers for you, and for so many who have lost what is most precious to them.
Love you, Mary. I'd love to figure out how to see your family over the next month or so.