Hannah's sweet smiles lit up our little apartment more than the lights of our sparkling Christmas tree. She loved sitting under its bright lights, cooing and squealing in delight. Her first attempts at crawling were toward this beacon of light.
This December has been the first in three years that did not begin and end with wonderings of 'will we ever have a living child to watch on their first Christmas?'
December 2007 was marked by intense grief over Owen's death. He had been gone just shy of two months and the raw, excruciating pain was as constant as breathing. Thoughts of what would it be like to hold him on Christmas morning, how big would he be, and will I ever feel happy again plagued every thought I had. December 2008 brought with it more pain. I was recovering from my third loss during pregnancy and though I was in no mood to celebrate, I went through the motions of the holiday. The deep, healing gift of grace was slowly beginning to soften my cold, hardened heart.
December 2009 was full of hope and fear. A little girl named Hannah Mae was beginning to make herself known in our lives. I dared to hope and dream of life with a living child, a daughter.
December 2010 has been beautiful and hard. And full of life; a life that three years ago, I could barely imagine. There were times during this Christmas that my mind drifted into a place that is hard to live in; a place that only exists in my grief-filled mind.
Sitting in front of our Christmas tree for our annual photo, my mind played with the images of a family with four cuddled up on the floor, smiling for the camera. I was holding Hannah on my lap while a little boy of three leaned against me smiling.
This December was marked with wonderings of 'what would it be like if there were none missing?'
There was joy and fun and baby giggles filling our hearts this Christmas, but I would never gloss over the sadness and grief that still lives with us. There is a longing in our hearts for the missing ones in our family.
The longing, the grief, the sadness, the missing are all a part of the waiting. Waiting for Heaven, waiting for our long expected Jesus. Isn't that what Advent is all about?