It has been a very busy Advent season her in the Lenaburg household and I will admit that the idea of facing Christmas and all the emotions that I knew it would bring just sat in the back of my mind rattling around. Too many other details to take care of to give them much attention.
I knew it would catch up with me eventually but I have learned in the past year that if I just keep moving forward, all the BIG feels I need to work through will wash over me organically, in their own time. So, I put one foot in front of the other and took care of business.
Yesterday, I was in the church alone fluffing the floral arrangements, making sure that everything was in it’s proper place before the Christmas Eve liturgies began.
As I looked around the sanctuary, I took in all the grandeur. It was beautiful but something seemed off to me. I sat for a moment in the silent church and looked at the crucifix hanging above the tabernacle and thought “Lord, none of this makes any difference does it. It’s just all fluff. ALL that matters to you is that the people come to to see you, to receive you. It doesn’t matter if there are flowers or decorations of any kind. What matters is YOU.” I just took in a few deep breaths and closed my eyes for a moment and sought a deeper peace that had been missing from my heart.
What a difference a year makes.
Last year we were in the final days of Courtney’s life. I sat with her, sang to her, prayed over her, read her books, cried and told her how much I loved her and how much she made my life so special and helped me to see what love really looked life.
My time with my sweet girl this side of heaven was coming to an end and I could not see a future without her. My life was all about her and Jonathan and Jerry. Her care took all I had and what was left was doled out sparingly to my boys.
Then in a blink of an eye she was gone. She closed her eyes here and opened them in heaven. I was torn in two. Broken, shattered into a million pieces never to be the same again.
I was lost in a deep dark pile of sludge and I had no way of getting out. I was drowning in sadness and fighting for every breath.
That was one year ago.
As I sat in the church yesterday, allowing the silence to wrap around me, I walked my way through all this past year has brought my way. The intense grief, the hardship of searching to find the light of joy once more, and trying to figure out what God needed me to do.
I had given everything I had to care for Courtney and I didn’t know what was left in my tank. But God knew. He knew and he waited for me to heal and begin to hope again. His timing is perfect timing. How could I have forgotten that in such a short time?
As I moved through everything that had gotten me to this moment, this new job as the liturgist at my parish, I wondered for a brief moment what life would look like if Courtney were still here with us. For the first time since she died, I couldn’t see it.
I swallowed hard and almost started panicking. My breath caught.
Courtney knew I needed to hear her voice more in that moment more than ever before.
She whispered straight into my heart “Don’t cry Mama. It’s so much better here. You have no idea how beautiful it is. So much joy. It’s OK Mama. You need to keep doing what God told you to. Help the sad ones Mama and hold their hands tight. They need you. I am OK. I’m with Jesus.”
The tears came and I entered into a bittersweet moment of grief there in the quiet. I sat and stared at the beauty that surrounded and me and thought that the beauty of heaven is probably one million times infinity better than my efforts here could ever bring forth.
There was such peace in that moment. In the silence of the church where my daughter received Communion and Confirmation and where she was laid to rest. My Courtney sat with me in that moment and let me hold her one more time.
There is beauty in grief, in a mother’s suffering heart. I lifted my head and looked up my Sorrowful Mother and shared my grief with her. After all, we both held our precious ones as they lay lifeless, secure in the knowledge that we would see them again. One day God willing.
It doesn’t lessen the hurt but makes it survivable. For God makes all things new doesn’t he? All things!
Time passed, the church began to stir with life, I wiped my tears and thanked God from the bottom of my heart for the gift of my daughter, my son and my husband. I thanked for honor to love them all for all the days of my life, wether they are here of in heaven above.
It may be our first Christmas without our Courtney here on earth, but my girl is just fine. After all, it’s so much better in heaven.
At least that’s what I am told. 😉