Courtney and I by the tree her final Christmas this side of heaven. (2014)
In a matter of hours Christmas morning will arrive. One of my favorite days of the year. Our Lord Jesus Christ is born. Salvation arrives as a baby, born in a cave with nothing but the love of his parents. It’s a day for celebration and family. The Christmas tree lit brightly smothered with ornaments given with love over the years. There is baking and wrapping and festivities galore.
Christmas can bring a feeling of great anticipation or dread. Layers of memories from years gone by, which can make one smile or not.
For me it is a bit more complicated that the joyous celebrations of my youth. Courtney’s death three years ago, changed everything. Instead of anticipating a day filled with presents and feasting, we were waiting for her to go home to Jesus.
Christmas was her holiday. She loved the lights on the Christmas tree. LOVED them. She loved Christmas carols and the jingle bells hanging on the front door knob. Without her here, it’s different. The day brings a reminder that someone who should be present at my family table is not.
It’s hard for me to hear certain Christmas carols, especially ones I sang to her late at night when she would struggle with seizures. Oh how I miss holding her by the Christmas tree, watching the lights twinkle and sparkle illuminating the darkness of my worry and exhaustion.
The lights, the music, the family gatherings, It all brings with it the hope that love wins. In the end, after that little baby grows up and lays down his life, willingly, for you and for me.
It means that death does not win. Christ beings with him the hope of eternal life. One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He wrote in Spe Salvi in 2007 “The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”
Hope changes things. Even in my grief and my sadness, I have hope. Hope that one day I will see my beautiful daughter again. Hope that I will hold her in my arms again. Hope that she will be spending an eternity with her Beloved Jesus.
I have no doubt I will shed a few tears on Christmas day. How could I not when the hole left in my heart by her death is still healing. When you have loved deeply without condition, then the grief you feel is just as intense. But that’s OK. It’s all part of life, the celebrating and the grieving all together. I am grateful that God chose me to be this child’s mother. What a gift she was and still is to me. She showed me how to love and how to hope in the midst of difficulties.
Merry Christmas my friends! May this day bring you abundant blessings and great love. May you have hope renewed once again that salvation is at hand. No matter if your table is full or their is a chair that is empty. Know that love arrives today and will remain with us now and always.
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