T'was the Night After Christmas

One year ago, Christmas night, my husband and littles were next door sleeping.  I was sitting at the foot of my parents' bed, massaging my mom's feet with essential oils.  Her head had hurt so badly, and for so long, it was difficult for her to tell us if anything helped.  She barely smiled and nodded when I asked if massaging was helping, so I kept on softly rubbing her feet.  I reminisced about the last time I rubbed her feet, when she was expecting my siblings and her feet were swollen from late pregnancy.  I had always enjoyed doing that for her, and she would lavish me with thanks when I did.

My brother Josh quietly entered the room, and walked to Mom's bedside.  She weakly reached out and took his hand, whispering, "I like your pants".  She had picked out the Hollister sweatpants for him, and he unwrapped them that morning when we all exchanged our gifts.  It was a wonderful Christmas morning with her, as she sweetly bore the headache, the light, the noise, so that she could be with us for our presents.

She held Josh's hand there for awhile, while I rubbed her feet.  He leaned down for a soft hug and told her he loved her, before he headed to bed.  And I wept.  Rubbing her feet there in her room, I wept fearful tears.  I didn't know why for sure at the time, but there was a peculiar dread, one I had never known, filling my chest.  Peculiar, because while the dread brought the weeping, there was a stillness--God was good and I could trust him.

I finished my massaging, said a short prayer for her, told her I loved her and went next door to my sleeping family.  Just a few hours later, the morning of December 26th, my Mama would breathe her final earthly breath.

I had always feared this.  Just a month before, I had been struggling and praying for such fear.  The Lord had been preparing and challenging my heart to trust him even in my worst fears.  I had always pictured such a tragedy being experienced with frantic anxiety, loud weeping, unbelief, fear, and pain so intense that you can't breathe.  But from the moment I got the phone call from the ER, my Dad's broken voice telling me that she was gone, there was a stillness.
When I had to hold my siblings as they wept soft tears, and I with them...a stillness.
When I had to do what I never thought I would do...
pick out my mother's burial clothes, her casket, her flowers...a stillness
When I saw her earthen body, which barely resembled the lovely lady I knew in her life...a stillness.

He, my gracious Father, was with me.  And the deeper understanding I had of the good news of his Son, the deeper was my comfort.  I urge you, friends, to know the Gospel of this Savior.  To know Him and be found in Him (Phil. 3:8). Know the love our Maker demonstrated for us in him (Rom. 5:8).  Nothing else matters, and it won't merely be nice reminders in hard times--it, and most importantly HE, will be your fortress (Ps. 18:1-2).

I know Christmas can be the most difficult season for those who are grieving lost loved ones.  And while it's been really hard as it's come closer to the milestone of her passing, I've been thankful that she passed the day after Christmas.  The same time of year that we are reminded of how death struck us with painful loss, is the same time of year that we celebrate that death will not have the last laugh.  We celebrate the advent of the incarnate Word of God.
We celebrate the Cross of Calvary.
We celebrate his Resurrection.
And we celebrate his Second Advent.
When despair tempts us in our grief, we don't have to look very far;  in lights, Christmas trees, nativities, carols and hymns, traditions, and advent sermons, and we are bombarded with reminders of Christ and the hope he gave us with His life.