When Christmas Hurts

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December 1957: The phone call drove my grandmother to her knees. Her lungs emptied in a gasp as she collapsed on the hardwood floor. Her only sibling, a brother— dead. World War II had not killed him, but a drunk driver did. Four fatherless children wailed when they got the news.

December 1958: My grandfather left my Dad in charge of the gas station while he traveled with the family to give his oldest niece away in marriage. A few hours later my father gripped his chest and crumbled to the green City Service cement. Twenty-seven years old and gone. Just like that. His heart failed. I was fifteen months old.

Often through my fifty-seven years, I’ve wondered how my family made it through those Christmases and the ones that followed. Our fatherless families always spent Christmas together. As a child, I couldn’t know the pain and suffering of the adults. The length of their Christmas hugs and their dewy eyes? Well, I thought everyone cherished each other like that on Christmas.

As a young adult, I faced a chilling December without my infant daughter, but finally understood the secrets of suffering. You cling.

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You cling to God the Father with all your might, and you cling to those He’s planted around you.

You grasp and hold on with clenched heart and hands. You pray to get through pain all the while you cannot escape it. Most of all, you remember that the Christ in Christmas suffered, died, and became your greatest sympathizer. He understands like no human.

Because of His tender, sacrificing love, you choose to celebrate Him—no matter how much you hurt. After all, He’s the reason we’ll see our loved ones again.

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Introductions

Ann Cooper McCauley

Daddy did you meet my little one, at heaven’s gate tonight?

Did you say, “I am your grandpa?”

Did you hold her through the flight?

Did you know her when you saw her?

Did she look like me to you?

Did you introduce her to the Father,

Did you hear her first, soft coo?

It’s strange how I never knew your face to call my own,

And yet because of heaven, you’re with my child in heaven’s home.

Someday I will join you both and the secrets you will tell,

Of how you spent eternity, and waited for me there.

In the meantime, I have your picture,

And the memory of one small babe,

To hold in my heart through earth’s long journey,

To keep me focused along my way.

For I wouldn’t want to miss that moment,

When together, I’ll hear you both say,

“Let us introduce you to the Father,

It was such a long, long wait.”

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Listen for His Whispers

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