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Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Treasure to Ponder

We can't totally "do Christmas" yet.  We escape to a beach in South Carolina.  A place I have never been.  To make new memories.  Try to avoid some of the old.  I pull aside heavy curtains the first morning to peek at crashing swells pummeling against white sand.  I catch my breath.  I have not seen it since she died.  I spent the last week of her life watching her chase seagulls and splashing in the blue.  Toes in the warm sand and ears held up to shiny shells.  Fortunately, little cries pull me away, and I really have no time alone to contemplate.

Christmas Eve.  We give the girls presents and help them tear paper.  Capture their cuteness with a lens.  Try to freeze the memories in time.  Burn them deep into my mind.    'Oooh mouths' and tiny reaching fingers meet warm cinnamon rolls.  Slobbery kisses and snuggles in bed.  Brush aside the moments of nausea and missing.  Hurry past the toys in stores that she had wanted for Christmas before she died.

Christmas Day.  We pile into the car and wave adios to la playa. Thankful for IHOP brunches on Christmas morning.  And a stroll through beautiful downtown Charleston... another first for me.  Twelve hours later we roll into our driveway.  I find myself hugging a baby and exclaiming that we made it!  We made it home with both of them!  Somehow I am surprised.  Relief washes over me.  We did not come home with bags to unpack and an empty car seat!  I squeeze them tightly.  We are back  from the beach and our cribs are not empty... this time.  I did not even realize this anxiety had piled up so high in me until it was over.

Christmas Night.  We are all tucked warmly in bed snoozing.  And I get it!  My Christmas present!  One I have asked for many times before December.  One (I later learn) my Daddy had whispered a secret prayer for me to have only a few hours earlier in a Christmas service.  One full of hope and life and mystery...

I dream I am at a family gathering and many of my relatives are standing around talking and laughing.  I look up, and my heart stops.  There she is!  Perfect in a red Christmas dress.  Her hair cascading around her shoulders in soft blonde curls.  "Makiah!?"  I exclaim.  I run towards her.  Suddenly, I realize I am in a dream and fully expect that when I reach her she will vanish- the way she always has before.  A shadow of something past that I am always chasing but never catching.  A ray of light that always slips over the horizon before I can grasp her.  But not this time!  I wrap my arms around her little body, and I feel her!  The warmth of her and the weight of her and the softness of her skin and giggles.  I kiss her and tell her I love her and hold her so very close.  We talk about heaven, and I ask her questions.  And she tells me some things...  treasures I think I will hold close and ponder in my heart like Mary.  Pieces of the conversation are etched in my conscious memory.  The rest feels shrouded as if by a veil.  I cannot quite remember it all or how it ended.  Only that I awoke with the image of my dream encounter playing over and over and bringing smiles to places inside me where only tears have resided for many months.  I want to go back and not open my eyes.  But light creeps in the edges and baby cries poke at my ears.  I am still here.  With my broken family.  But the mystery of a heavenly chat and a little red Christmas dress on Christmas night fill my heart with hope and awe. 

New Year's Day.  I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for special gifts from God's people.  And I am still astonished at my unexpected present that is perhaps from God himself.  I think for a minute that I wish I had written about it a few days earlier, but then I change my mind.  I have spent the holidays soaking up every moment of my family.  Breathing in the memories as they form.  I do not regret it.  I hope this new year- for me and for you- is full of heavenly gifts and soaking up moments... until we are all dripping with life and light... the kind that drives out darkness. 

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