At our home, the better part of yesterday was spent decorating for Christmas. We put up the tree, hung the stockings above the fireplace and brought out our Christmas village. The girls put a second tree in the basement and added a few extra decorations that we normally do not have. It goes without saying that I fond myself pondering a year ago, our first Christmas without Laynee. The first Christmas during which our family felt incomplete.
Once again, I am amazed at how much I do not remember. I know that there were no trees or stockings or any other holiday trimmings with the exception of a candle in each of our front windows. In many ways the lack of memory seems merciful. Yet, at the same time, it leaves me wondering how we survived and how we will make it through this and all of the holidays to come.
As we decorated the tree, my mind imagined the excitement and wide eyed wonder of my would be almost 4 year old. My mind's eye could see a tree with way too many ornaments on it's lower branches where she could reach. Our collection of ornaments contains many which are adoned with tumbprints, handprints, or tiny photographs. There are ornaments constructed of felt, pipe cleaner, tiny beads, popsicle sticks and misplaced wiggly eyes or fuzzy ball noses. Those are the ones which were made by our children and proudly displayed for all to see. My heart clenched at the knowledge that Laynee never had an oppurtunity to bring one of her beautiful hand made ornaments to me, hence, our tree will never have a piece of her personality on it. Instead, I unwrapped ornaments given to us last year which tell the story of a child taken far too soon. They are beautiful but not the kind that anyone ever wants to have hanging from their tree. Each time I pass, I am reminded that my child is in the arms of Jesus where she will spend her second Christmas in heaven. I know that I should be comforted by this knowledge, but the truth is that I don't want her to be in heaven, I want her here with me.
As I have done so many times, I must find a balance. The pain of grief refuses to dissipate. It has been absorbed into my existence. There is a narrow place that allows me to enjoy the celebration with my living children while my heart aches for my child who is in heaven. Rejoicing and mouning can walk together.
CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.