a good reason to celebrate

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone…and a strange, mixed-bag sort of year at that.  I told Terry yesterday that I think 2014 is going to be a “good” year for us, whatever “good” means.  I can’t say I’m sad to see the year come to a close.  It’s been brilliant and tumultuous, much like 2012 in that way.  I’m hoping for some sort of leveling off next year.  We have big changes to go through (Terry just started a new job, Jude is still a baby, we are hoping to move out of our home, etc.), but I’m thinking we can handle those things.

So here we are, back in the Christmas season.  For me, things don’t feel as raw in regard to Reece as they did last year.  I’m thankful for that, because I can’t say this is the case for every member of my family.  I can’t say I’ll always feel this way, so I am appreciating that this year I don’t feel down about Reece.  I miss him, but not in a depressing sort of way.  Every day has some raw moments, but the sum of all of the day is generally positive.

Nevertheless, this time of year is interesting, because it conjures up a whole host of emotions about certain things in regard to Christmas, Jesus, the nativity story, and the way society frames this.  I’ll admit, I didn’t grow up in a household that put a big emphasis on Santa, so it’s never been a big draw to me.  In fact, Terry was displeased to hear that when Reece was two I told him Santa wasn’t real.  I know, I know…bah humbug.  However, the following year he had completely forgotten I had told him that, so I didn’t totally ruin it for him.  Still, I’m not a fan.  I do have some Santa décor in the house and we do visit Macy’s Santaland every year.  That said, I was totally shocked at my frustration with Christmas in general last year and that it had very little to do with Santa.  I certainly think we need to celebrate Jesus’ birth, don’t get me wrong.  But many people would say things like, “I’ll bet they are having a great party in Heaven!”  I think this was meant to console me and I certainly am not bashing on people for attempting to say something to be cheery and with good intentions.  But after hearing this a few times it made very little sense to me.  We celebrate Christmas in December because of other pagan holidays (and I’m no history buff, but I did enough “Google research” last year to know that Dec 25 is not likely to be Jesus’ actual birth date).   Then I became lost in the realization that every day in Heaven must be a huge celebration of Jesus…not just one day or month (or for some people from the day after Halloween until well beyond Jan 1st when all Christmas décor should be taken down…in my humble opinion).  I realized that our view of Heaven is so minimized here.  We give it such little thought and I now spend so much time thinking about what Heaven must actually be like that it drove me batty to make an assumption that Dec 25 is different than any other day there (much too long of a topic to get into in this post).  Thus, last year I walked through the motions of Christmas and found myself exhausted with trying to imagine Heaven’s reality, yet being trapped in society’s version of Christ’s birthday.  I was not exactly looking forward to going through it again this year.

Thankfully, this year has felt a little more relaxed.  I’ve come to the conclusion that while Dec 25 likely isn’t the day Christ was born, the citizens of Heaven and Jesus Himself must also know that it is important for us to celebrate His birth.  It isn’t about the actual day, but about the fact that He was given as a gift.  I’ve found my way back to having an enjoyable Christmas season.  I’ve found some ways to make Reece a part of our family’s traditions so hopefully it won’t feel completely void of him.  I’m thankful that we started traditions with him while he was here so that we can continue those traditions and have the continuity between all of our children in that regard.  And truthfully, those things are important to me and encourage me.  Those things matter.

One thing I have done recently is watched “The Bible” miniseries.  It is really good.  We recorded it off of the television and I have been watching bits and pieces during nap time.  I normally lose interest after about an hour of any movie–especially a miniseries, but this one kept me captivated.  Yes, I do understand that it is someone’s interpretation of the Bible and that these people are actors.  However, there is something about watching what biblical events probably looked like, what the people looked like–the culture, the background, the various situations they were in–that made it powerful.  Because I was fitting in bits and pieces here and there, I started with Jesus’ ministry, worked back through the Old Testament, ending with Jesus’ birth.  While so many things stand out from the series (including the struggles of all of the Jewish people, the Patriarchs, and certainly Jesus’ disciples), watching the portrayal of Jesus was quite impactful.  For me, seeing His compassion towards people and a representation of how He handles various situations with grace towards others (unwanted and unloved people, sick people, outcasts, greedy and rich people, friends who betray Him, and even those who mocked Him while He was dying) made me appreciate Him even more.  Instead of just reading words on a page about Him, it actually portrayed that He had emotions as a real person, because He is a man.  It also showed His love for people, even when they didn’t love Him.  And when they killed Him, wow, did it feel personal.  It made me want to jump through the tv and start kicking and screaming at people to figure it out!  Overall, it made me weep for what He did for us.

I told a close friend of mine, shortly before Reece entered the hospital, that if we lost him during the BMT process I would spend the rest of my life struggling to not elevate my desire to see Reece over my desire to see the Lord.  This was an accurate statement and often one that weighs on my mind.  Although I know the Lord understands the pull, I have in the back of my mind that it will be a challenge for me in my life.  Well, I got to the end of this miniseries…again, not the exact representation of Jesus, but one that tried to stick closely to what the Bible says.  I felt so much gratitude and love for Him.  I’m just so excited to see Him.  It’s personal.  It’s personal because of Reece, but it’s also personal because I am so incredibly grateful for Jesus.  I love Him and I’m so darn unworthy of His love.  It felt reassuring to have those feelings.  I love Jesus because of Reece but I also love Him for reasons that are completely unique to me.  I see this as progress in my life.

The other big thought I had when it finished was that I am so grateful that Reece is with Him.   There is no where else I would rather him be.  Jesus is perfect and His love is perfect.  Words can’t describe how thankful I am that Reece is seeing Jesus face-to-face.  I can’t wait to see both of them!

When Reece was in the hospital I remember praying for the people reading our blog.  Since Reece passed, I don’t have any memories of praying over this particular blog and its readers.  However, I am going to pray that anyone who reads this post understands how awesome (and I mean truly awesome) Jesus is and how incredibly wonderful it will be to see Him face-to-face in Heaven.  Better than Hawaii in winter.  Better than a hug from mom when you are sad.  Better than the Vikings actually winning a game.  Better than your morning cup of coffee.  And certainly better than whatever you may have wrapped under your Christmas tree.  I pray you know Him personally.  He’s not a gimmick and He’s not fake.  Jesus really is real.  We really will not make it to Heaven without knowing Him and loving Him.  He is truly something to celebrate…every day of the year.

Merry Christmas!

a new year

I’m glad to be blogging on a new site.  This new site is still a work-in-progress in regard to its configuration, but I wanted to get it up and running, as to not lose my motivation.  Truthfully, Like Olive Shoots has become, to me, similar to all of Reece’s things…sacred and somewhat untouchable.  I want it preserved the way that it looked last year.  I don’t want to add anything further to it or change things around.  I’ve realized over the last month that I needed a different site if I wanted to keep writing.  Tonight’s post will be a short one, to get the ball rolling.

We made it through Christmas and Terry and I looked at each other and said, “We have to do this again?”  The whole season felt overwhelming and took quite a bit of energy to wade through without Reece.  We actually had a nice, quiet holiday season (by design), but the holidays are exhausting even without the grief aspect and avoiding much of the season, as it turns out, takes a great deal of energy as well. The celebration piece of Christmas was low-key–we avoided malls, parties, baking, and most social situations.  It is a season of perpetual merry-making and conversing.  Small talk either requires we lie to people or bring them into the heaviness of the year…neither is enjoyable.  We decided to not put ourselves or others in those types of conversations, at least for this year.  While there is no way to know how I will feel years down the road, I get this feeling that right now–when the kids’ ages are still in the appropriate “order”, when Reece hasn’t been gone for very long–it will be easier than another 5, 10, 20 years down the road.

A year ago we were thinking that we would be vacationing someplace warm this January to celebrate a year of new blood for Reece.  We were marching forward with little option of turning around or changing our minds on anything.  We were beginning the process of grieving Reece; he was so different during his transplant.  And while I’m sure this isn’t exactly the way that people want to start their year, as we approach anniversaries and the triggers of the time of year–the cold, the date, the approaching birthdays–it makes me want to crawl in a hole.  I don’t think it would be wrong to do so.  And I definitely don’t think there is a right or wrong way to feel in regard to grief over a child (or any loved one, for that matter).  Anyway, I’m going to try my best to re-program my brain to avoid constantly comparing this year to last year.  I’m not big on “anniversaries” and I could spend six months in perpetual anniversary-mode.  We are charging forward into 2013.  My Facebook status last January read, “2012, I’m not sure how I feel about you.”  I guess my status for this year could be something like, “2013, at least you aren’t 2012.”