I woke up Christmas Eve morning, my entire body feeling heavy, like it was difficult to breathe. My heart felt like it was broken and trying to pump lead . Some days over the past months are easier than others and that day, it just plain hurt. It had been building over the weekend. The family had been fighting more and I found myself wishing that things could just be easy, for a few minutes if nothing else. In a spot in life where remembering to be happy and to smile can be hard, some days, I just wish for easy. I sat in the bathroom sobbing. All I wanted was to have everything back to how it had been before Lizy died. Sure, life would be far from perfect, but it wouldn’t be impossible.
But, it was Christmas Eve day and dinner had to be made and all the other preparations and I couldn’t let my family down. I struggled through the day. We all did. I think we fought more than we ever had. I cried more than I ever have. Everything felt broken. Nothing seemed to work right. And I caught myself thinking numerous times, “How can we hope to be an eternal family and see Lizy again, if we can’t make it through a few hours without a major fight.” I sobbed, I pounded on my husband’s chest and soaked his shirt with helpless tears and no clue how to fix everything that was broken, because it wasn’t the kind of broken that could be fixed with some duct tape or crazy glue.
I pulled my self together for the fifth or sixth time that day, smeared my tears away and ran a last minute trip to the store, trying to collect myself, knowing that when I got back our adopted grandparents would be there and the festivities would begin. I cried some more in the car and hoped my eyes didn’t look too red. I tried my best to wish the cashier a cheery “Merry Christmas.” I don’t know if I was convincing or not.
Sure enough, as I arrived at the house they were there. I walked in and my heart lightened. It was Christmas Eve. It would be perfect, and even though we couldn’t see her, I knew Lizy would be there.
We ate dinner and acted out the nativity – the kids insisted on Lizy being the angel and we draped the white lab coat (angel costume) around her picture. We made it through, I laughed and had fun – the kids were so cute in their costume and we felt the spirit and Lizy’s presence. Santa came and brought pjs and we tucked the kids into bed.
We spent the next couple hours cleaning up and getting ready for Christmas morning and then, as I stood there and looked at the fully packed stockings and Lizy’s rather lacking one the tears hit again and all the missing came back.
I cried myself to sleep.
I awoke on Christmas in a post-cry haze to the sound of the girls whispering excitedly. The day progressed remarkably smoothe – I was wrapped up in the joy of the children. I didn’t mind the crazyness and the mess. There were a few tense moments,fights and one rather large explosion at one point, but I managed to hold it together some what.
Evening came and we sent the kids off to bed and I stood staring at the fireplace mantel where all the stockings, now empty, hung. All but one. Lizy’s sat on the hearth still waiting to be opened. We brought the kids back down and sat on the floor by the tree. I shook out her stocking and paper after paper tumbled out. Paul and I began to read – our Christmas gifts to Lizy. Most were acts of service or kindness carried out by our family, but some were by others – even a neighbor down the street had dropped some by. We read, and read and read. Often times our voices cracking with emotion.
As we finished, Emily climbed, sobbing, into my lap. “I can’t believe all the service that was done for her.” She choked out. We cried together, all of us – Dot and Dad, Jacob, Em, James, and I. Robert looked on in bewildered 2-year-old innocence. As the tears dried I looked at the family. I knew Lizy was there too. It was perfect – a perfectly imperfect Christmas. And for that one little moment I caught a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of what it’s all about.
We might fight, we might argue, but we also love. We love deeply and eternally. Our dear sweet kids have struggled and strived and done hard things – some of the hardest things they may ever have to do. My husband has been my solid rock. My littlest boys have been some of my greatest comfort. Last night as I glanced around at the messy house and the toys and wrappings scattered about all I could remember was the happiness of the day, the gratitude in my heart, and the joy that I had a family and friends who cared so much that they filled Lizy’s stocking with service that took us well over thirty minutes to get through. And that time when I cried, it wasn’t so much tears of sadness and missing Lizy, as it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.
I knew Lizy was thrilled and I knew that no matter how hard, how much we fought, how impossible it all felt and seemed, that we would make it through – we’ll have a lot more rough patches to still make it through – but we’ll get there one way or another. I’ll fight for it, our family will fight for it, and we might mess up big in the process, but that’s what this season is all about. A celebration of the birth of the one person who made it all possible – Jesus Christ. With His help, and only with His help can we do it, – and we will. I know it.