Thank you for the texts, calls, messages, cards, and gifts sent this Christmas season.
We are overwhelmed by your faithfulness, friendship and love.
Our Christmas was good.
We felt your love lifting us.
We missed our girl but as we have learned and continue learning, the anticipation of a big event is usually far worse than the actual day itself. This was certainly true of Christmas.
In fact, Nora said at one time early in the morning, "This is my best Christmas ever." I immediately stopped, kissed her forehead and silently prayed, "Lord, please don't let her feel guilty for feeling that way." I heard it several more times that evening and again yesterday from both kids.
This was their best Christmas ever.
It's hard for me to write that so I can see how it would be hard for them to feel it. How does it sound to the world for us to say this was our best Christmas ever when Mabel wasn't here to share in it with us? My prayer is that the heart that knows God and all of His wonders would fully understand and even celebrate in that with us.
It was the greatest because of His true coming, and our fuller, deeper knowing of Him.
Because of the beginning of it all-- His being birthed onto earth, we have the greatest hope.
Hope that believes when Mabel closed her eyes one last time here, she opened them for the first time in eternity with Him, face to face.
And one day so will we.
This Christmas season we stayed true to our traditions because though she was with us, usually screaming in the background, these hands-on activities have always been about Nora and Braden. I wanted so badly for them to feel the normalcy that each year brings and also remind them just how special it is to me, for them to carry these simple things throughout our lives.
I was dreading Christmas morning because Chris had to work. The thought made me sad and sick. Our first Christmas morning all alone in the house where Mabel died with just the kids and I seemed overwhelming. So we celebrated early at my mom's Christmas Eve so he could be with us, and it was incredibly calm and special. The house smelled delicious, the food was good and there was a certain feeling of celebration despite our obvious missing.
When we left mom's and came home for the night I couldn't help but feel relieved. The hard part was over; the initial Christmasing. I sat back and looked around and realized relief was exactly what I felt.
There are so many aspects of the medically complex life that I've already forgotten, or maybe I'm not letting myself remember too much just quite yet. Either way, I remember enough to know that this night wouldn't have looked or felt at all like it just had if she were here.
Her screaming, my sadness, her suffering, all of our exhaustion; it was unending.
Until it wasn't...
All of that DID end for my girl and in this moment, on our first Christmas Eve without her, I felt so relieved FOR her.
I missed her inexplicably, absolutely. But that is essence of this new life without her, balancing the feelings of relief, peace, hope and joy, with sadness, missing, aching, and total heartbreak.
I thanked God for getting us to here. To now. Together.
And before I knew it, all was calm and Santa came.
I woke before everyone else to drink coffee and just be still.
I filled the scentsy warmers throughout the house and found myself lighting a candle for Mabel. This isn't something I have ever done or ever felt the need to do. And even on this morning I was unsure why I lit it really. I just knew that I wanted to make space to hold her in my heart and this made sense in that exact moment. I don't think I told anyone that I had done it, maybe just my sister. It was just something for me that helped me feel her near, even for a second.
The kids got all that they could have ever wanted and had a really great morning at home. This Christmas they also got to enjoy the weekend with their dad and step-mom and I feel really grateful because truly, they're finally just so happy.
While they were gone I took the time to enjoy a long run, a short nap, some good food with my longest friend, and then a late-night couch talk and cry with Rache.
It was really exactly how it needed to be.
This Christmas, as always, I was left feeling fully in awe of a God who chose to come for us in the most vulnerable way, as a baby. The God-child in a manger, who would grow as we grow and live as we live. But who died brutally so that we never truly have to.
So that we can eternally live.
As we are counting down the days that lead to a new year, my heart sure does feel heavy; full of something different that I can't quite articulate. Please just continue to pray as we move forward without Mabel into a year that she won't be part of.
It's a year that I pray brings goodness, peace and finally a calm to our family that we haven't had in quite some time. We all really long for true rest; the kind that comes from our Savior alone.
No resolutions will be made, no unattainable goals will be set-quite simply, I will strive to be present and grieve as the grief comes. I will do my best to love bigger than I have ever loved and most importantly I will try every day to be patient, present and at peace with myself in each moment that I am in.
Thankful for my Christmas blessings and the blessings of a new year to come...