Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I Had to Let It Go...

Christmas Eve, I was standing in my bedroom gathering the filled stockings to bring downstairs when it hit me....

I didn't bring Rachel her stocking.

It felt like I got punched in the gut.  My eyes shut with the pain and I stood there trying to breathe through it for a minute, knowing if I started to cry, I might never stop.

I thought for a minute about the options.  I could run down to the cemetery and get it hung just so my heart felt better... so I hadn't neglected my tradition with my girl... so I didn't feel like I had forgotten her...

But where is her stocking at this point in our house renovations, anyway?! 

I had to let it go.

I came down and hung up the stockings on this beautiful entryway decor Matt built me.  He was very gracious to make my Pin on Pinterest a part of our home for me... but you know I wanted 7 hooks.  I wanted Rachel to have one like she did at our old house - obviously not for her to use, but for my heart to know she was acknowledged.  We ended up deciding while designing it that there wasn't enough space to add a 7th hook in the hallway's space... and because we have no mantle, I cleared the coats off of the entryway hooks to use those.  It seemed the perfect solution until it hit me....

I have nowhere to hang her stocking here.
I ended up hanging it with Eden's.  That works for now...

My eyes welled up.  I looked around for other solutions.  Mine and Matt's didn't fit there either... but that doesn't sting.  Rachel is one of our children.... she should have a stocking hanging... I always use her stocking or Easter basket as a place to put the candy we all share - kind of like treats from heaven... but I'm the only one who seems to even notice or care.  Everyone else has their stocking and candy... or basket... or hook....

But what will I do, set up my home constantly for a 7th kid who isn't here?

I had to let it go.

Christmas morning was a beautiful gift with this precious family God gave me.  Memories of last year when Eden was born and those first newborn grunts and figuring each other out flooded my mind and heart.  I'm so thankful for her.  Her birthday on Christmas Eve was hard because we were so busy getting ready for Christmas that I didn't get to slow down with her like I wanted... but I can make changes for next year...  Rachel though... I never got the chance to try again for her.  I never got the chance to re-do anything I wasn't happy with.  I don't have the opportunity to show her in a different way... be more creative... take a different picture...

I had to... still have to... let it go.  Constantly have to let it go.  Repeatedly let it go.

And it's not easy, although I do it more gracefully than I used to - if not letting other people in on how hard it is is considered 'graceful'....

After all the excitement from Christmas morning settled, we got ready, I put a daisy pin in my hair, and we headed to the cemetery.  We got hot chocolate on the way... and Asa decided it was too hot, pulled the cover off and dumped it all over his lap.  We pulled over and yanked him out of the car to get the heat of it off his skin.  I had an old bag of clothes someone had given us in the trunk and was able to find him clothes... but in the bag, the reason it was going to the Goodwill... it was a bunch of girls clothes I forgot were in there.  They came months ago, mixed in with boy clothes someone gave us - and just happened to be a size 6.  So there we were on the side of the road... on the way to the cemetery for our 7th Christmas in a row... and I'm going through girls size 6 clothes.  And as I put them on Asa just so we could make it to the cemetery and not have to go back home, my heart hurt... yet I knew it was a gift of provision for me (both the clothes being there and that Asa didn't noticed they were girls so he didn't refuse putting them on!)

And so I climbed back in the truck, brushed it off and let it go....

We arrived at Rachel's grave much later than we wanted.  But as we put the truck in park, Des said "Hey, it's 4:30!"  And it was... which was a kiss from heaven, yet meant it was dark.  And dark enough for me to immediately notice her Christmas lights were not working.  Her tree was tipped over... her decor I put on top of her stone had fallen off... which meant so did the solar light battery that was now upside down in the snow.... the beautiful vase my friend Nicole had left on Rachel's birthday was sitting in frozen water and broke the second I touched it... once again, a result of my failing to get to her and keep her grave like I used to.

Matt helped me get it all picked up.  I hung her Hope stocking - not the one I usually hang on Christmas Eve, but the one I meant to hang ON HER BIRTHDAY that was still in my truck because I forgot and never made it back... and things were back in place... it looked orderly again...

But it was so dark.

I hate her grave being dark.  

For years, I have done everything I can to make sure the darkness of the night doesn't take over that sacred space of earth.  Solar lights in all shapes and sizes have helped my heart keep her name visable.  And yet, this year, I have failed at that.  I know Hope is still there.  But this year, the rest of the world felt to be spinning at a pace that the cemetery couldn't keep up with...  rephrase that... that I couldn't keep up with.  The cemetery was full of people leaving things for those they have loved and lost....

Maybe I should have gotten a wreath on a headstone hook like she did...

Or brought down a live Christmas tree like he did...

Or left my shepherd's hook up, despite the new cemetery rules, like they did...

Or maybe I should have come and taken care of my baby's grave like I always have.  I closed my eyes and cried.  And I guess I needed that because Matt stood next to me as I cried for quite a while in the cold, dark cemetery on Christmas.  He didn't say anything except one sentence... "Sometimes it's hard to remember..."

I have no idea what he meant because I waited for him to finish his thought, but he never did and I was crying too hard to ask.  Maybe he meant it's 'hard'... as in not easy on the heart to remember.  Or maybe he the emphasis was on 'to remember' as in it's easy to forget.  Or maybe he didn't even know what he meant - maybe he was talking about the details of her birthday, all we went through... or maybe he was just as disappointed with how her grave looked.  He's been used to me always keeping it presentable and nice.  It's never felt like that there.  Maybe he even just meant it's hard to remember what you were about to say....

It's just all so complicated.  Life, love, loss.  Grieving while living.  Living while dying.  Dying before you live.  How much colder, darker, and more windy it is in the middle of a cemetery.

How can I feel so healed and have that be part of my pain?  It seems only a conundrum of those who have to walk through life without a child.  It's just not supposed to be this way.

We drove away from her dark grave and brought the kids on a hunt for Christmas lights.  And while I oohed and ahhhed with them, it felt so wrong... to be surrounded by so many lights... the music... the Christmas cheer - while my baby girl is in that cold, dark cemetery...  but I know there is Hope.  And I know It doesn't disappoint...

And so I had to let it go...

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