When we first heard that you were due at Christmastime, I knew this holiday would forever be different because of you. When I'd tell people our due date, they would rave about how amazing it would be to have a brand new baby in the house for Christmas day - particularly a brand new baby boy. We knew you wouldn't really be born then. My history of preterm labor had us convinced you'd arrive by Thanksgiving, but, again, if history repeated itself like our two previous babies, you'd be home with us before your due date, and we would indeed have you in our home for Christmas morning.
It never occurred to me that you'd arrive much too soon, nor did I ever think that you wouldn't make it home for Christmas.
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We decided to put up our Christmas tree today since we will be out of town for Thanksgiving. I've heard so many other grieving mothers say they are dreading another Christmas without their little ones, but I hadn't felt that same grief. Not yet anyway. And then we got out the tree...
Actually, it wasn't the tree that reminded me that you won't be here for yet another Christmas. No, it was the Christmas music. A friend had given me the CD of "The Christmas Box" by Paul Cardall last Christmas. I listened to it constantly back then. It made you feel close, so very close.
It's been months since I've heard those songs. And as I heard the first few notes played today I felt that overwhelming desire to curl up in a little ball and cry until no tears were left. It hit me like a ton of bricks. You are gone and this isn't just a dream. And I miss you desperately.
But as I continued to listen to this beautiful piano music, my sorrow quickly passed and I was overcome by that same strong feeling I had last Christmas season - that feeling that you are so very near. I sat down and closed my eyes while listening to the music. And then, with the rest of the world shut out, I could feel you. It felt as though I could literally reach out and touch you. The rest of the evening as I dressed the kids for bed, read them stories, and sang them lullabies, I felt as though you were right there with us. It was such a tangible feeling - one of those tender mercies from God that I have come to cherish more than anything.
I was right, Christmas will never be the same because of you. Never. I once thought it would be different because it would be a time for us to celebrate your birth. But now I see it as a time that we celebrate your life and the light that you have brought to us. We are better people because of you. Our love for eachother is stronger. Our determination to return to God is unwavering. Christ's life is not something we celebrate merely on Sundays and Christmas morning only, but rather every single day.
I thank God for you every day, too, Luke. I miss you, but I know that you are here with us tonight. And that fills me with a joy that words cannot express.