The Christmas season ends with the Epiphany.
Christmas was such a whirlwind again this year, when did it even start? Over the past years, I have come to the realization that it is ok for my expectations to shift. For me, there is a different “bigger picture” and I am thankful for what really counts.
Early in the season, I loved seeing the curiosity in the eyes of our 2 yr. old as we traipsed through the mud at the tree farm. It was his first experience helping to choose a tree for his grandparents’ house. I wandered up and down the rows of trees, holding our little one’s hand and carefully stepped around the saplings. At the same time, I wondered which tree Keaton would have wanted to pick? Our 6 yr. old should be here to experience the joys of Christmas, to help “supervise” and carry the fresh tree back to the truck.
Before I knew it, December 25 had arrived. Amidst the hustle-bustle of Christmas day, we excused ourselves from the family gathering and took our toddler for a ride in the car so that he could nap. We pre-planned to visit the cemetery to say “Merry Christmas” to our eldest son Keaton that day.
Each year, a few parents lovingly decorate the area dedicated to infants and children at our cemetery. Bows on the trees, candy canes on the fence and poinsettias on the markers. The decorations make the cemetery look more like a Christmas garden and it makes me smile.
After we got there and cleaned Keaton’s plaque, my husband tried to preoccupy our youngest (why refused to nap in the car as we had planned) by pointing out the birds in the pond and the candy cane decorations. I stood a few feet away shivering at Keaton’s gravesite. It was a sunny, but chilly Christmas day. I shoved my hands in my pockets and let my mind wander as I quietly mumbled the words to “The Lord’s Prayer” out loud to myself.
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…
All of a sudden, my mouth and my mind came to a full stop. I got to the word “Heaven” and could not go on with the prayer. A lump had formed in my throat and I was acutely aware of the words I had just recited. I knew this prayer well and yet, the words “on earth as it is in Heaven” replayed over and over in my head. It was like I was jolted into focusing on the present moment and then I felt an incredible wave of sadness. Why is it that you are not here with us Keaton? Was it God’s will that was done? Why were you taken to heaven so soon? What is Christmas in Heaven like?
I looked down at Keaton’s marker. Motherly instinct whispered that it was he who urged for my attention. My baby boy simply wanted me to be with him undistracted. For weeks, I kept myself busy with Christmas “stuff”. Preoccupied with other things. I didn’t give myself much needed time to miss Keaton during this special season.
Overcome with emotion, I took the this time and allowed myself to really connect with Keaton, “I’m here my Love, mama is here – we miss you so much…” And in that moment I felt like God gave me one of the greatest gifts I could ever get for Christmas – the opportunity to be with my son in a special way.
The cemetery is one of the places where I get a chance to experience just a little bit of heaven on earth. To be fully present with our loved ones is a gift in and of itself. The chance to be reunited with those who have passed because of the birth of baby Jesus is the ultimate gift. As the Christmas season ends, I pray that this upcoming year I remember to live in present moment more often and be thankful for the precious gifts God has given me. That includes both of my sons.
Merry Christmas Keaton…
We love you,