Light Appears Brighter Against the Darkness

John 1:4-5 In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

It has been two years, from that fateful day, where my life without Dave began.  December 21st, 2012.  I can still remember thinking the week before he died, that there were so many sirens and ambulances rolling around the streets and I felt so sad for all the ambulance occupiers.  I specifically remember thinking that I hoped we would at least make it past Christmas, if anything bad were to happen to our family. How was I even thinking that in the first place?  It’s like somewhere in the cosmos, I gleaned some hint that something bad was on our doorstep.  

At the time,  I just couldn’t believe that he died four days before Christmas.  Even last year, December held so much sadness, because I felt that Dave’s death would always overshadow December 25th.  That the sadness of losing Dave would always temper the celebration of Christ.  I felt robbed.  I mean, there could have been about 350 other days in the year that would have been much better, but right before Christmas . . . . Really? 

We are only two years out, from that tragic day, and I feel 100% opposite, now.  I can't think of ANY other day that would have been better.  I mean, I still wish it would have never happened at all, but if I had to choose a day, December 21st is pretty spot on.  

There are a lot of hurting people around Christmas and that makes me so sad. You are always hearing about how difficult the holidays are for people who have lost someone, so after Dave died, I just assumed that would be my reality forever.  There are workshops at churches, there are holiday support groups and there should be.  It is one of those times that should be so happy, so when you are not, the sadness is highlighted.  

I can't express to you how different I feel at this Christmas. I have never been so full of the meaning of Christmas as I have been this year.  Placing one of my darkest moments next to the brightest moment in history, makes that bright moment like heavenly fireworks. I have gone around tearing up and crying at the mere mention of baby Jesus this year.  It is a little ridiculous and I admit it.  My kids would probably second that notion.  

I am so grateful, so grateful, so grateful, for this tenderness towards Jesus.  It didn’t just come one day, though.  It has come out of the last two, most impossible, years of my life.  I didn’t even know this tenderness was in my heart.  I thought my heart might be hard and cracked from all the doubting I have done over the past couple years, but a couple months ago, me and my sweet boyfriend, Tony, (I still feel like a 14 year old when I say “boyfriend,”) were wrapping up a fun evening at my house with some books.  We read a little Pinkalicious, and Click Clack Boo, and one about a tiger.  Then I thought that, seeing as how we are a little Christian family, we should wrap it up with a chapter from the Storybook Bible.  Macie ended up choosing the story about when Jesus was born.  I could not even get the first sentence out, before I started crying.  Everyone was like, “What in the world?  Why are you crying?”  I blubbered, “I just love Jesus so much and I’m so glad he was born.”  So, Tony read the rest of the story, and I sat there wondering when my heart became so gooey at the mere mention of baby Jesus.  

From that point on, I have been so thankful that Dave died so close Christmas.  The heavenly fireworks are so much more grand, with the dark background of Dave’s death.  There is  something so special about losing someone at Christmas.  It’s like a little special gift, somehow.  I can’t even explain it. 

Even yesterday, at church, we read the Prayer of Confession and I cried through the whole thing.  I’m sure, if people saw me, they would think I was crying over the 2nd anniversary of Dave’s death, and in a sense I was, but only as it relates to his death being OK, because Jesus was born!  

“Heavenly Father, we confess when we hear the angel’s song, 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests,' we barely grasp the fight represented by their singing. Your Son, born the Prince of Peace, has that title because His is the Lamb of God - the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.  We give You all glory because You so loved us that You gave Your One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  We humbly pray to see Jesus’ cross in His manger.  As Your glory shines around us, open our hearts to truly grasp this good news of great joy.”  

The year Dave died, I went to the Christmas Eve service at night and the choir sang the song, “Shine On Us.”  This year, my kids ended up singing that song with the adult choir a couple Sundays ago, which was a very special moment, as I feel that the light of Christ, has made a way, in the darkest night. 

Megan's Take:  "Placing one of my darkest moments next to one of the brightest moments in history makes that bright moment like heavenly fireworks."  That sentence alone rocks my world.  It is altogether mystifying that you can write what you just wrote -- let alone feel it!  This is no work of fiction, this is the honest to goodness truth.  Holly -- you and your children are living, breathing, shining testimonies of a God that came down to earth to bring us life.  He makes all things new.  This holy paradox of hard meets holy is something I have the hardest time wrapping my mind around.  I don't want hard.  I really don't...BUT...if the dark ultimately draws me closer to the Light, well then?  Well, there's something.  You, dear Holly are a pilgrim, blazing a trail of faith for the rest of us.  You may not have chosen this, but it came anyway.  And when it came you allowed yourself to be remolded by the potter's hand.  Thank you for shining the light of Christ for us in this season and the ones to come...

Christina's Take: Sitting with you in the church service where we read this confession you write of, I saw the tears fall but I could tell you weren't exactly sad. You were "full." Sometimes I think we can become so overwhelmed with the meaning of a moment that tears flow out because we just CANNOT contain that welled-up emotion. That's what it seemed like with you in that instant. 

The other thing that occurs to me is this:  beauty and pain are realities we cannot understand separately - both parts are essential. You cannot see the light without having seen its' contrast - darkness. And that's what I see in this blog post...that, Holly, you will never reflect on Dave, his death and these ensuing years without feeling both poles of emotion. And it shows me that one moment of grief isn't the whole story - there is always another moment ahead and the possibility of brighter things. What a rich Christmas this is turning out to be!