I've been blessed with two years of decent Fridays. It's actually pretty crazy when I think about the fact that more than 90% of my visits have been in good weather. But this Friday, I was supposed to bring her stocking and decorate for Christmas... and I didn't want to do it in the pouring rain. So it hit me hard. I went down and cleaned things up and waited to set up her stuff.
The next day I started hearing from everyone that there was an extravagant rainbow that afternoon.... apparently everyone was pulled over in rush hour traffic to take photos, it was so pretty. I missed it, but the amount of people who thought of Rachel when they saw it reminded me of the impact she has made - as well as how God continues to minister to others with the things that say 'Rachel'. It's pretty awesome that He uses these things to remind other people of His love too. What a privilege to be a part of that. I'm so blessed. And of course, it reminded me that you can't have a rainbow without the rain.
On Christmas Eve, I went and hung her stocking and picked up some of the things the wind had taken away. I cried a lot sitting there that morning. I miss her so much. I was especially thankful for the sun that day because I knew it was going to help charge her lights on her tree. I have a corner of my garden area at home (where her bench usually sits in the warmer weather) that I decorated similar to her grave so I can see it from my kitchen window. I made matching wreaths and bought matching solar lights and Christmas lights. And that night as the lights here shined bright, I smiled knowing her grave was well lit on Christmas eve. I hate the idea of it being dark there.
One of our Christmas traditions is I get us each a new pair of jammies we wear on Christmas Eve. I just got myself some yoga pants since likely it's the only thing that will fit me for long :)
|Des is holding Rachel's lamb and our letter E for the two sweet babies we can't hold yet.|
Our Christmas this year was simple. We bought each of the kids three things and we got each other one thing from each of the kids. I've always struggled with the desire to give them a big presentation on Christmas morning. Somehow it has always seemed important to me that they come down and are in awe of all the gifts. This year, I really wanted things to be different. I sat the kids down last week and told them that we were only getting them three things and that I expected them to be thankful for the things they got. When I got done telling them that Daddy & I are working hard to make it a special day, but that we wanted to keep the focus of Christmas on Jesus, they got up and hugged me over and over. It was not the reaction I was expecting at all. Des asked me "Is 3 for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or December 3rd?" I smiled at the fact that I didn't pick 3 from any good reason, but that it does tend to be a very prominent and special number in the bible....and in our home too.
On Christmas morning, they each opened their 3 gifts and even today, the next day, they have not stopped thanking us. I'm so blessed by their grateful hearts. They are pretty awesome kids. I'd love to take credit, but it's their God who makes them that way. We also had our traditional quiche - except this year I tried a different kind (spinach, instead of broccoli... our new recipe!! We all loved it) and we needed two because there are too many of us for one to do!
Desirae got a hamster... it's a girl and she was totally floored that we would buy it for her. A friend of Matt's gave us all the cage and wheel and all that, so all we had to buy was the hamster, the food and the bedding. When she opened it (we put a wrapped laundry basket upside down over it) she immediately started worrying... "does it have enough food?" "Where will we put her?" "What if she dies?" "Is she comfortable enough?" "Will she like me?" "What if I'm allergic to her?" (she has animal allergies) "Shhh... Isaiah, don't yell, you might scare her!" I watched her face go from totally in love, to scared, to excited, to nervous.... it's scary to love.... and her maternal instinct set in immediately for this cute little rodent.... She has someone to care for, that relies on her, that she wants to protect and is scared to lose.... She hasn't held her yet because she says she is "letting her trust her first.". She doesn't want to rush into it and scare her. She said "For some reason she reminds me of Rachel.... she's so little and cute... I know! I'll name her Daisy!" And so Daisy is now a loved member of the Aube house... Daisy Butterfly Aube to be exact. :) She wrote her name on the top of her cage. She never ceases to amaze me with how she loves Rachel in her own ways. She added a dandelion and a daisy to her name...
After we visited with my sister (she gave Rachel a gift card for hot chocolate so we could get some on the way to visit her for Christmas) we piled into the car - all of us still in our jammies, except Des who was wearing her new outfit. As I buckled Sam in, with a big smile at how blessed we are, "Have yourself a merry little Christmas" played on the radio. I've heard it a million times and never payed attention to the second part of this line....
"Through the years we all will be together...." (yep, that's a familiar part)
"If the Lord allows." (Am I the only one who has taken this part for granted? I'm not sure I've ever listened to this song and ever thought of anything other than spending my life with the ones I love - especially on Christmas) I certainly never thought that He might not allow us to.
If the Lord allows.... I hate that I know this part so well now. I hate that this is the 3rd Christmas I've been through without Rachel. I hate that on her due date, I have to mourn her instead of hold her. I hate that it's not up to me. I miss her so much.
We got our hot chocolate and went to her grave. It was snowing and pretty out. It was a white Christmas here, which is nice. There is a young boy buried near by Rachel and guys come to visit him and drink beer there and pour some on his grave. I thought about pouring some hot chocolate for Rachel.... and then I thought that I don't want to get her vault dirty - or what if it seeps into her casket?
All of a sudden it hit me. Am I crazy? She is in the dirt. It's dirty down there Stacy. It rains, pours, snows. There are bugs and muck. Am I in denial? It's dirty. It's muddy. It freezes and thaws and it probably cracks her vault. And there's nothing I can do about it. My baby's body is not warm and dry like I want her. I starting crying and got back in the van. Matt stood at her grave a little longer and something about watching him stand there broke my heart. It made it more real, I think. I stand there all the time, but a lot of the time, I'm task oriented. I go to get things done and make it pretty. But when he stands there, I just see the reality. Our daughter is gone. And we're left with the hope of heaven.
And so on Christmas, that's our gift. It's the only one that won't fade, rust, rot away. Hope in heaven. Hope in Jesus. Hope in our Savior's birth... and death... and in Him conquering the grave. It's all we have. He came as a little baby, just like Rachel... with a soul purpose of dying, just like Rachel. He was born to a mother who loved him, and although surrendered to God's will, didn't want to see her son die..... just like Rachel. There are so many ways that she reminds me of Jesus... so many ways that I feel I came to know Him better through her. So many ways I can relate to Mary, Jesus' mother. But unlike Rachel, HE had the power over the grave. His body didn't stay there. He rose again and because of Him, I know I will see her again.
When I picked Rachel's birthday, I picked it based on two things... I really wanted to wait until after her due date (Christmas day) because I wanted to give her as much time as possible to develop. But my polyhydromios was doing a job on me and I was afraid my water was going to break before I could have my c-section. So I decided to go earlier than I wanted. I wanted it to be a Friday and I wanted her to be full term. December 3rd made her 37 weeks and 1 day... and it was a Friday. I didn't know that I also picked the week that Advent starts. And that the first week of Advent is HOPE. So every year on the Sunday near her birthday, we light the candle of Hope.... Hope that He is coming again. The Christmas season is not just about that little baby born in a manger... It's also about what He came to do, Who sent Him, and where He went.... and that He is returning again.
What a glorious day that will be for all those who call upon the name of Christ and recognize Him as their Savior.
I was tempted to be sad that Rachel was not remembered like in the past two years. My mom, my sister and my grandmother all remembered her with little gifts and I got a couple facebook messages and a couple cards in her PO Box. I'm thankful for all that, although it's so much smaller than before. God knows what I need though and this year, I didn't need that like I did before. I don't want her to become the past... but it's happening. It will never happen in my heart and I'm thankful for the people who recognize that. She will always be my Christmas baby... and I think Christmas will always hurt a little, but that's okay too. She is worth every tear.
I spent the rest of the day sick - the hot chocolate didn't agree with my belly and Baby E keeps me pretty sick and extremely tired these days. I couldn't even eat dinner (thankful for a husband who likes to cook!) and instead curled up in bed around 7:30 with a puke bucket near by. But that's okay.... I can handle that. I've certainly had harder days. I've certainly had worse things to endure. And in the end, I still have my three irreplaceable Christmas gifts.... the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hope in heaven. I'm so thankful for Christmas.