Sitting here in the early morning, I am surrounded by the dark, except for the lone candlelight in the window...the candle that has been in the window since Caleb went to Iraq in 2006. It is a flicker of hope in the darkness.
It has been a long while since I have done this. I woke up, grabbed my laptop, and came to the living room to sit, compelled to write.
Yesterday was the Wreaths Across America ceremony. It is a beautiful tribute.
I stood alone with Griz, a little ways from those present. I had to be alone right then.
I watched as the veterans from our VFW marched in. I listened to the low cadence as their shoes hit the gravel.
Reality hit as it for the first time. I was a real part of this ceremony. When they mentioned the fallen, they were talking about my son. When they hung the wreath for the Marines, my son's face came to mind. When they hung wreaths for the other branches, the faces of so many young men and women crossed my mind.
I know their parents. I know their stories.
It is all real.
Emotions flood and tears trickle down my face.
The eternal flame is blazing, the flag is at half mast.
The speaker says to stop at a marker, read the name.
Think about that person. He/she had a family, a life.
Taps is played.
The lullaby of completion is what I call it.
"Day is done."
It wasn't a big crowd, but I've come to appreciate those who attend. They are there to honor.
That is what is important.
I visited with a few friends yesterday.
For some, it is the first Christmas without their loved ones.
The rawness of the absence of someone so dear and close can be overwhelming.
We talked about their loved ones, and the memories, the close relationships they had shared.
How tough it is when you're used to having someone in your life, someone you love so much -then suddenly they are gone.
Poof. Just like that.
It is hard. How can someone be here and all of a sudden just be gone from our lives, their existence erased from this present reality of life.
We talked about God. The questions, the unanswered questions- it didn't have to happen, but it did. Oh, the many questions we have. Yet, even though we may not have those answers, we have the one answer that gets us through...knowing God is there. He is real. He does love us. He does give us comfort and peace. It's tough. I know it is. I know he's there. But, yes. I've been mad. I've screamed and cried. It is sometimes beyond hard to walk down this road. There are days I think I simply have to see my son again. I can't stand not being able to see him. It's time. I miss him so much, and the hurt is so deep...yet somehow, I get through another day. I know I'll see him again, but it's the now that can be difficult.
But, through it all, God is faithful.
Holidays are hard.
As I listened to these friends, I heard hope in brokenness.
Yes, it's so very hard.
For some, as I said, it's their first Christmas without their loved ones.
Yet, they are moving.
Some are going somewhere. Some are having family fly in. Some decorate, others do not. I stay home. My children come. That is the specialness of Christmas for me. I decorate because I am celebrating the hope I have in my heart. I decorate because I have always loved Christmas. Caleb always loved Christmas. I can do it. For me, it's important. Jesus came at Christmas. Heaven came down and glory filled the earth.
I sit here, the candle in the window lends light to the break of another day.
Even though tears stream down my face, thinking of all those going through that first Christmas without a loved one....remembering that first Christmas and how unreal it was....thinking how it really doesn't change much as the years pass. It is still unreal. Maybe the ultimate shock is gone, but there are moments when the reality hits so hard and it's almost impossible to accept.
As day breaks into the darkness, hope lightens the day.
May Christmas bring the hope that came to the world as a baby, Jesus, Yeshua Ha-Mashiach.
May the reality of what we cannot see, bring peace.
May the joy in knowing we will see our loved ones again, spring from our hearts - even if we cry.
We are not alone.
He is ever with us.
Immanuel - God with us.
He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
copyright. Diane Homm/2018