Christmas blessings

Christmas trees, arms laden with heavy gifts of crystalline flakes, sparkling like bits of graphite, enveloped me as I drove home from the clinic the evening prior to the celebration of Christ’s birth. I was thinking how odd it was that I could admire the frigid, moon-lit beauty one moment, and with just a little curve in the slippery road, suddenly the tectonic plate of my mind would shift and I was looking down into the bleak, cavernous blackness that was now my future. Pulling over so as to avoid sliding into the abyss, I allowed the writhing spasms of guttural cries to fill the empty cab of the truck that one held our ever-holding hands. The strange dichotomy of that blessed heart anesthesia, disrupted suddenly by the awareness of open-heart surgery’s icy metal tools, made me think of Elizabeth Kublur-Ross’s stages of grieving. I wondered, petulantly, at the audacity of someone scientifically categorizing the private erratic meanderings of a treacherous broken heart.

But stepping out of the big Tundra truck that had been his dream, my too-large, thrift store Columbia boots alighted with that scrunching sound that brought me back many years to a paper route on a freezing Minnesota morning before the morning broke, and yet, the day was already alive with ethereal, bejeweled wonder. It was a strange sensation that awakened in me the realization that my life was coming full circle. Those frigid mornings in the predawn, freezing cold when Ray and I would swear that when we grew up, we would never live in a place like this. Yet here I was. And I was glad I was. But there, at the top of the perimeter of my life’s rotunda, life’s fragile thread severed and hung low; blown about by the breathless breath of loss as I watched with sadness in my mind’s eye. But as I watched, the gossamer ribbon, torn and hanging down, was captured again by a golden thread of grace from the other side, tied by the hand of a loving God, to the adrift one, and sealed into the heart-shaped pattern of my life. My life was not a simple “circle of life,” but a life full of love and sealed with a heart.

I suddenly realize it was Christ-mas; the celebration of the Savior’s birth. It was He who had found me that one day; the 25th year of my life, and shortly thereafter, made this dreamer’s dreams come true in gifting me with a love that stood strong and beautiful for 36+ years. What a Christmas gift I had been given that day in 1983. Now, I must give him back to the One who loves even more than I.

I became more aware of myself, burrowed deep in the arms of this new community, this new family. Covered in handmade quilts and blankets, “comfort” shawls, admiring the beautiful ornaments, books, gifts, and heartfelt mementos, I re-read the comforting words on piles and piles of cards that spilled over the top of our extra large coffee table. I tried again, to find a place in the overstuffed fridge, for yet another home cooked meal, dessert, and treats embellished with offers of absolutely any need I had being willingly met. I gazed mesmerized, pools of tears blurring the missives, at hundreds of messages on the hypnotic screen of my iPhone; words of love, encouragement, and hope, and I knew why Jesus had chosen this place for us when Scott went Home. Our little fatherless girls were cocooned in the constant, compassionate embraces of teachers, nurses, coaches, para-pros, bus drivers, and office staff of an iconic, “one building” schoolhouse. Our little white church, sitting with its pretty bell tower pointing proudly to the Savior we love, on a hilltop at the crux of the idyllic little mountain village, became as all church families should, our true family. From the night Scott suddenly closed his eyes forever in my arms, they never have left our side and never left a need unmet or a tear undried. The patients and staff at Rangeley Family Medicine; those I was called here to serve, to help, to heal, suddenly turned their benevolent, tender hearts back upon their doctor.

In our earthly family, biology never determined who would make us up. Each member was carefully chosen and grafted into a family made by our loving Lord Jesus. And when our patriarch; the best husband, the best father, the best brother, the best leader, the best friend, was taken home in a moment…in the twinkling of a tearful eye…this family God created came together as most biological families never will. A depth of love, forgiveness and loyalty emerged from those who had already suffered so much, and now must suffer again, but never again, alone.

Our Christmas tree, decorated halfway up, waiting for a visit from tall friends.

And what can I say to thank the friends and family from all over the nation; nay, all around the world, as you pressed in with calls, cards, gifts, love, words? Scott’s high school friends, and mine, old neighbors, Coast Guard friends, brothers and sisters in Christ; friends old and new. No, dear ones, there are no perfect words. There are no words that will bring me back into his warm embrace, but your words have helped. They warm, they comfort, they bring hope, they love, they say, “but you…you are still…” Still what? I don’t know yet. But thank you…with all my heart. Just saying “thank you” is not enough, and this I know well. I should write thank you notes to you all, but because your number is so great, I can’t. Regardless, I hope you know, and can sense, and feel, that the phrase “thank you” transcends its boundaries from our broken hearts, to you all. Dear Ones…thank you. And, Lord Jesus, thank you for Scott.

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