Sunday, December 22, 2013

(when christmas is the hardest day)

I have all of these words in my head and heart that I want to spill out - 

no time to write, so here I am on the floor next to Eli in the guest room at my in-laws; forgot my laptop, so I'm plinking on my phone- 

family downstairs 


everyone together 

no, not everyone

And my heart remembers that first Christmas without our little son. 

There wasn't one easy part. 

It was awful. 

All of it.

Looking back, we just endured, plodded, anguished through the days. 

busy sidewalks, city sidewalks dressed in holiday cheer . . . in the air there's the feeling of christmas. . .

The snow was hard for me to cope with because it covered his grave and I couldn't even grasp that he was under the grass, out in the cold. 

That year I would weep, great retching sobs next to his tiny metal marker in the snow. 

i'm dreaming of a white christmas. . .

That first year some unknown angel shoveled a path to his grave every time it snowed. (even december 25th) 

That first year someone hung little blue ornaments on the little tree next to his resting place. 

have yourself a merry little christmas. . . let your heart be light. . .

That first year I sat and stared at the annual pile of Christmas cards trying to figure out how to not sign his name. 

. . .from now on your troubles will be out of sight. . . 

That first year we filled a stocking for Gabe, too. . . my daniel went to farm and fleet and bought our littlest man Christmas presents: a fire truck, lil red mittens and some hand warmers. 

It's the most wonderful time of the year. . . 

The happy music seemed to mock my sorrow and the joy of Christmas everywhere drove a sharp knife deeper. 

Mostly we cried a lot and clung desperately to our (patient) friends and family. 

This year is our fourth Christmas without little Gabriel James. I know he's missing - we both do. But there isn't the same utter hopelessness and anguish. 

I'll never forget though, as long as I live, that first Christmas and so I write to tell you, dear one - 

you with the tears 

and you with the broken dreams,

you with the empty spaces, 

you with ache no one knows,

you with the crushing load of loss and pain 

my heart cries for you. 

I'm blinking my own tears, wishing I could take away yours- wishing, wishing that your Christmas wasn't painful and that you didn't have to walk this road. 

Wishing you didn't have to cry your silent tears into your balled up fist in public restrooms;

Wishing you didn't have to be brave when gifts are passed out and there should be one more name; 

Wishing you didn't have to know about cemeteries at Christmastime or that you didn't have to wonder if your baby is cold. 

I can't take it away.

And it doesn't help much while you're drowning in grief to hear me say - you can make it, dear one - fight - hang on- don't give up - God will bring joy back to you- (though I've found all this true). 

So while you grieve and while you ache let me just say: 

You aren't alone. 

You haven't lost your mind- it is hard.

You are loved by a God Who will never let you go. 

The next time you hear garish music and tis the season to be jolly - take a deep breath and know this:

The world has no answers for pain. 

Without Christ, there is no hope. Masking pain is the best the world can do, thus the materialistic barrage of the holidays. 

When your pain is too great to mask and the scars and wounds are too gaping there is only One Answer and He is a refuge to the weary and broken. 

He is there.

He is real. 

He is God become Man.

He is the shining light of the darkest Christmas because He came to our darkness. 

And that miserable first year the music that brought the most comfort was the truth of Christmas, not the fluff. 

And ye, beneath life's crushing load
Whose forms are bending low
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow - 

Look now! for glad and golden hours 
Come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing. 

He came to bear a cross. 

For me and for you. 

Cling to the truth of His Word and hold onto hope - 

He came to bring life, to rescue you from all this pain. 

We can all rejoice about that gift. 


  1. gahhh!!! tears. i adore your brave, trusting heart. thanks for sharing so honestly and for being a voice for those who are hurting this season. love you!!

  2. You have put it all into words so very well...and yet we both know words don't really do justice to the searing pain that almost takes your breath away!
    I hear your heart and identify with you...this season again there are soo many people that are in the depth of fresh grief..and my heart aches!
    Bless you my dear and thank you for sharing your are gifted!

  3. Beautiful words to read during a bittersweet holiday for me. Someone going through a hard time told me last week, "the holiday cheer makes it all worse." I wanted to tell her the real Christmas is not about holiday cheer and that the story goes deeper. Clinging to that deeper story this Christmas.

  4. You make a grown man tear up my dear....So beautifully written by a beautiful soul. I am so so very sorry your had to endure this loss. But some day we will know all of God's plan, and rejoice. God Bless you, Daniel, and all the kids. We love, you!! Tom & Tracey

  5. Oh my. This is the truth. I want to share it with my friend who just buried her 15 year old daughter. The pain in the midst of the holidays is SO, SO hard.

  6. thank you for writing the words of my heart. I think of the mother I know who buried her strong 24 year old hotshot this summer after the Yarnel fire.

    The mother I know who buried her first born baby son a few months ago. He was to have been born this month. my heart aches and aches, but there is no way for me to describe the pain like you can. Thank you for using your pain go bless others.

  7. Oh how sweet and full of truth. For those who can't grasp the love of the Savior, their loss is so much more. So happy you have the Lord to rely on. Thank you for sharing these personal thoughts. They apply to so many!