|Christmas Morning Sleepy Faces.|
I wonder what today was like in heaven...
Since I've been at this grave decorating thing for a while now, there isn't much I need to do to make things pretty for her. I'm thankful for that, but at the same time, it leaves me feeling like I have nowhere to direct my need to take care of her. I put a few things in her stocking, but can't see spending a lot on things for a child who isn't here. I try to incorporate her where I can, but it's hard to find something that feels good enough and yet makes sense.
For the first time in 4 Christmases, I arrived at Rachel's grave to find not one Christmas gift there for her. The young boy that died recently and is buried not far away had 4-5 visitors in the 30 minutes we were there - all unaware that they weren't the only ones. I wondered if that is what Rachel's spot was like the first Christmas she was gone. I believe it was - and maybe even the 2nd one as well. I knew it wouldn't go on forever, but it's hard to know that her spot is less and less traveled upon. I found such comfort in knowing that others stopped by to check on her and to remember her too. This year the space felt empty. There was a card hanging in a bag, I excitedly opened it and was disappointed to find a thank you card from a nearby griever who we shoveled for. Not that I didn't appreciate the card, but I so was hoping it was for Rachel. This is by far the hardest thing for me to swallow... people move on much faster than I ever will. And even for all the people who grew to love Rachel in the early days, there are few still on the journey with me. This year has been revealing that more each day. It's very hard. Thank you if you still remember her with me... I need you more than you will ever know.
I had received one Christmas card in her PO Box from my friend Lisa. I got it the day before and waited to open it and I put it in her stocking. I brought it to her grave just in case there was nothing there. I opened it and read it to her. I was thankful for that. I don't know what else I would have done there if I didn't have that.
We didn't leave the house to visit her until after 4, so it was starting to get dark. We stopped for hot chocolate and were blessed to find it was free all day! So we each got one and I grabbed an extra cup for Rachel. I hung her stocking (I usually bring it on Christmas eve, but wasn't able to and was heavy hearted about it) and left her a cup.
I guess what I notice these days is that although every instance isn't painful anymore, I can feel her woven into every single minute I breathe. I spent some of the afternoon snuggling with Ezra in my chair. He had blown out in his outfit, so he was just wearing a diaper and he was so snuggly. He was fast asleep and reached up and wrapped his arms around me. I'm not sure I can put into words for you what that moment did in my heart, but I can tell you that besides being so unbelievably grateful for a live baby in my home on Christmas, every thought I had brought me back to Rachel.
His soft skin, his warm breath, his grunts and wiggles.... his relaxed hands that lay flat on my shoulder like Rachel's did... some of it made me miss what I didn't get with Rachel and some of it made me miss what I did. I relished in the life I hold now, while I mourned the life I lost until eternity. Simple things hold such deep and difficult, complicated feelings... intense love... unquenchable thirst for God's comfort and grace... and a yearning for heaven I never knew existed. I've never wanted to be in two places at once so bad as I do when I am holding my living children.
And what I noticed the most about my life - especially on Christmas - is that I'm the only one who knows. Nobody around me would ever know the extent to which she envelops my every moment. I did family get-togethers and our own Christmas day celebration - and nobody knew. I watched so many people acknowledge the other kids and forget about her and I didn't fall apart. I thought about her a million times. Nobody could see what I felt. Not even Matt and the kids. Each week I run errands, go to church, bring my kids out for things...she is in my every move and always on my heart - and nobody knows. I'm not sure if it looks much different than the first couple of years without her, but it feels different and I can't really explain why, other than to say that I guess I'm starting to accept the fact that this pain is all mine.
And that's okay because so was she.