As a child, it was all about the presents and the magic of Santa Claus. I was taught about the Savior's birth and true meaning of Christmas, but as a child I was focused on the material part of Christmas. Years later, I remember feeling let down as I realized Santa wasn't real but then excited to be my mom's elf to my little brother and sister. It was still about the presents though. Later, as I got married, it was fun to have my own little Christmas tree with my husband and create our own traditions. 3 years later, our first son came along and then it became ALL about him! That was so wonderful to experience Christmas through his eyes. It's truly a blessing to be able to see the magic come alive through a child.
7 years ago I was experiencing a very difficult Christmas. DeLanee was diagnosed on December 2nd of 2003. As a new mom, I was so full of excitement for the following Spring and the little life that was going to enter our family. In fact, I was so excited that I had already sent out my Christmas cards, decorated the house and bought presents - all before December. My anticipation of this little sweet baby growing inside of me had me very motivated!! There's just something about the promise of new life. On December 2nd all of those feelings were washed away and replaced with many others. My heart was filled with sorrow, frustration and even anger. I can't even describe the intensity of these emotions that I was feeling. They were overwhelming and all-consuming and any "Christmas spirit" that I was previously feeling was gone. To me, I no longer felt in the celebrating mood. I had a 3 year old at the time, so of course I had to "fake" my way through the month, but inside I felt like crawling in a hole until it all passed.
There is one particular Sunday before Christmas that stands out in my mind. On this day that I went to church, a sweet lady from our church was singing a solo called "Mary's Lullaby". Rebecca Barney has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. I was already in such an emotionally fragile stage, but the beauty of the song along with her incredible talent melted my heart and I found myself sobbing. A friend of mine was sitting a little ways down and noticed that I was not doing such a good job of holding myself together and very subtly passed me a kleenex. I was so embarassed of my lack of composure and tried to do the best I could to hold it together, but the fact that she was passing me a kleenex made it apparent that I was NOT doing a very good job of it. I'm sure it wasn't pretty. If you haven't heard this song, it's such a sweet and tender song about Mary and how she felt about this most important little baby she had just given birth to. The part that always sticks out to me the most are the lyrics that say: ". . .for you are a king, but tonight you are mine".
When I hear this song, I think of Mary swaddling and holding her sweet baby, knowing how special he is and some of what is in store for him but not worrying about any of that for now, because. . . on that special night HE was HERS and that's all that mattered! I believe that she must have relished in that moment and the opportunity she had to love on him, sing lullabies and study every little feature on her sweet boy. Knowing what an important mission he had and that he would save the world must have compounded that love. I wish I had a download of the song I could share with you, but couldn't find a good version of it on the web. It's so beautiful. I love instrumental music and have been listening to a piano version of it on a CD by Marvin Goldstein called "The Greatest Gift". But Elise Adams also has a wonderful version of it on her CD and you can listen to a little snipit of it here.
Anyway, on that day, I couldn't help but think of my own baby and how I knew what was in store for her. I knew I wasn't going to keep her. I knew of her struggles and challenges that she was facing. . .but I too wanted her to be mine. . .if only for a short time. I wanted it sooooo badly and prayed that I would get to have some time with her. I feel so blessed to have gotten that opportunity. I know God must have known how important it was to me and I feel so blessed that I DID get a night with her. I will never forget how good it felt to hold her in my arms that night. I knew my time was going to be limited, but I was given the gift to hold her, love on her and have her be MINE for that night. It felt so good.
Today I went to church and again listened to this beautiful song. I was so glad that it was a part of the Christmas program because it has such a special place it my heart now and I love listening to it during Christmas. It was interesting though how today I sat in church and listened to this same song, but with a different ears.
This year has been a bit more emotional for me for some reason. It has been 7 years since DeLanee has passed away. Of course that first Christmas was extremely difficult, but each year has slowly gotten better. I'm not exactly sure why this one has been harder. I love everything about Christmas (except how hectic it can get). But what I love most is the opportunity to focus on the Savior and what His birth and life means to me. Actually, I think over these past 7 years I have developed a stronger appreciation and love for my brother, Jesus Christ, and what he has done for me and ALL of us. He paid the greatest price to give us the ultimate gift. . .eternal life. Eternal life and the opportunity to be with our loved ones again. Words cannot express how grateful I am to Him for this. So, now when I think of Christmas, I not only think of the Savior's birth, but his life and more importantly his atonement for the world which means that I can be with my daughter again. . .and not just for a night - but forever, and that is the ULTIMATE GIFT!
This is the knowledge that I find rest in. This is the truth that comforts me. I know the burden of grief and how it can bring us to our knees. It's my prayer that if you are feeling the heartache and loneliness that comes from losing a loved one that you may be able to to feel the gift that our Savior gave us and that is the assurance that life is everlasting. In that we can find peace and comfort.
John 14: 7: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”