Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another First...

We made it through the first Christmas without my mom.  I am learning that this grieving process is full of strange and unexpected twists and turns.  It doesn't always follow the path you think it will.  For example, the weeks leading up to Christmas were so incredibly difficult and complex, in many ways.  Sweet memories of holiday traditions that my mom created for my family were both a source of comfort and pain.  I loved remembering how she did so many special things to create meaningful traditions that served as an "anchor" for our family Christmas each year.  The pain was a result of traditions not created this year with my own family...I had imagined baking cookies with my mom and my boys, making my mom's famous fudge with her, and paying very close attention to how she made divinity - I have no idea how to create this treat that my hubby loves.  I was looking forward to sharing those traditions with my family...and my mom's death has left all of these things undone. I have never celebrated Christmas without my mom.  It feels strange.  There is still joy - after all, the joy of God's amazing gift in Jesus cannot be squelched by the sting of death.  Our boys were full of joy and excitement...and filled my heart with joy, too.  Such tender little ones full of wonder.  The celebration marched on, but in black and white instead of a rainbow of technicolor.  So much left undone...yet, life goes on.

Speaking of undone, there are constant reminders of things left undone.  My mom died at such a young age (only 63) and so unexpectedly.  There are reminders of a life in progress all around our house: a Billy Graham biography with her bookmark at the half-way point,   her "Jesus Calling" daily devotional book lying on the bedside table open the day before she died, projects that we had intended to finish, meals we were going to prepare, and the list goes on and on.  It's painful.

As I grieve, I am keenly aware of how my boys(including Brad) are processing my mom's death, too.  Sam was moved to tears....sobbing...on Christmas Eve.  He knew that Christmas wasn't the same with his "Gran."  It made him sad.  He kept saying, "It's just not the same.  It's not right.  I want her back with me."  Heartbreaking.  Walking through this season of grief with our boys has been the most difficult and tender time.  We've been honest, we've shared tears, we've validated their feelings, and reassured them of God's promises.

At first glance, Luke appears to be just fine...however, he fearful that I will "go away" like his grandma did.  He is never far from my side and is always seeking my affection.  Several times a day, I hear him say, "I am going to marry you, Mom."  "I am never going to break away from you, Mom."  "I don't want you to leave."  "I don't want you to go to Heaven."  I do my best to reassure him that his Daddy and I are doing all that we can to live a long life with him and that going to Heaven isn't scary - but, wonderful!  A few nights ago, we had just finished reading a bedtime story and we snuggle up close for a prayer together.  After the "amen," I hear his soft voice say, "Mom, if there was a fire at our house, would we all go to Heaven."  Poor sweet boy.  I assured him that Daddy loved us all so much that he made our house safe with fire alarms, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers.  We talked about calling 911 and how firemen and policemen would come help us.  I reminded him of our family's plan to meet at our mailbox out front if there was a fire.  I tried to empower him to do something...equip him with some skills to help him cope.  I am just so unsure of what to say at times.  Grief is complex...the process is different for each of us.

Caleb and Matthew continue to talk about my mom as usual.  I wonder if they think that the 8 weeks she lived with us was like a "long visit" and now she has gone back to Indiana.  They remember things that Gran gave them, books she read to them, and things she said, like "Sweet Dreams" before bedtime.  I pray that they will "know" her through the photos and stories we tell them.  My mom loved them fiercely. 

Sam drew this on the chalkboard in our kitchen.  I love it!

Watching Matthew open a gift.

My dad (in the hat) passing out his gifts to the grandkids, Brad videotaping, Caleb (in striped shirt) apparently pulling his pants down.
So, we have survived yet another difficult "first" without my mom.  Some things were the same as always: gifts, matching pajamas, birthday party for Jesus, and time spent with our extended family.  Many things were very different, her presence was missed....something was "off" with our holiday celebration.  But, God was faithful and Christmas served as a powerful reminder of His goodness.  With God's help, we made it.


Rick and Beth said...

Oh, Christina. What a sweet post. A friend told me this week that there is nothing more precious than faith being passed down to the next generation. You are doing just that. I love how you are teaching your boys to cope through the eyes of faith. What a testimony to your mom's faith and her desire to see her descendants live lives of faith. I hope to face something like this with similar faith. Love you, friend.

Chris and Sarah said...

Wow, I love how real you are on here about your grief because how many people hold all this in. I can't imagine how hard it is to not only deal with your gried but the boys at the same time.

Now totally off subject...those boys are even cuter now that I have met them all in person ;)

Jodi said...

Precious post. Thanks for always being real. Your boys are so sweet. God knew what he was doing when he gave the boys you as a mom--you are so tender and reassuring. I miss you and think of you often!