I used to love decorating the tree, I have such fond memories in my own childhood and in Hackett's younger years, but now I seem to struggle every year. Our traditional memento when we travel is an ornament. Each year we purchase our boys and ornament that somehow represents them in that year. So hanging up ornaments is a walk down memory lane. I have Koen's baby ornaments and each year I add an angel ornament to his, now growing, collection. So putting up our tree, and the tree itself represents my sad. And if you are reading this and are fortunate enough to have not lost at your core, you will understand some day. Unfortunately it is not a feeling we can escape in this earthly life if our lives are rich and full. But you may be thinking, "don't hang the angels" or "put those ornaments away then". The ornaments represent the realness, the pain and ache that I will experience angel ornaments or not.
(Sidenote: I have tried to busy myself this year making ornaments in Koen's name and honor, it helps to fill my heart and keep my mind focused, but the irony of this is not lost on me.)
As I watched families post their tree decorating on Facebook, it all looking so magical and perfect, I got angry. Want to know how our tree was decorated this year? It took two days. I snapped at Kevin, barked at Hackett, and cried. We seemed to take shifts, there was no togetherness, no priceless pictures. Koen's first Christmas I spent on the couch watching the boys decorate while I smiled, trying to hide my sadness, while tears rolled down my face. After our tree was decorated this year, I had to apologize. In my grief and loss, some things and moments have been stolen from me. Moments so simple, so taken for granted, can slap me in the face. Slap me so hard that I don't even know what hit me for second. Sometimes it takes me awhile to sort out that my patience is not in existence because the realness of my baby missing his fourth Christmas is so very real. And I miss him. My memories are getting fuzzy of holding him, feeling his skin. I ache for him.
Then Jesus whispers in my ear, "he's here". Koen is with Jesus, and Jesus is always with me. What Christmas preparations does my Koen get to help with? What a celebration he must get to witness. Koen is okay, its me who is not.
We went to see the movie Star a few weeks ago and while I was watching the scenes with Mary and Joseph it hit me how hard life is. Jesus is with me always, but life is still hard. Mary had Jesus in her belly and life was still excruciating. The travel in her third trimester alone would have been more then I could have endured, but then to reach your destination and still have no place to rest, no place to deliver your baby? God gave Mary his son to carry, and she was still faced with obstacles and hard, even though Jesus was literally with her. In this life we face obstacles, pain, suffering, and hard, but Jesus is with us too, every step of the way. He is not the key to a seamless perfect life, he is the key to finding that peace again. So if you are hurting this Christmas. Feeling the ache of loss, missing those you have lost, struggling to find the happy because of the hard. You are not alone, Jesus is with you. He's here.