Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Death and Christmas

Well, tonight's experience of putting up the Christmas tree didn't turn out like I expected. It actually did't get done at all...

Our house was filled with excitement as we finished up dinner and started opening up all the Christmas bins. We didn't have enough lights for the tree so Brian decided to run to the Family Dollar down the street while we kept Christmasing.

Important side note: Pandora was set to our Mariah Carey Christmas channel, which after liking a few songs, made an unwanted turn toward what I would name the Deep and Borderline Depressing Instrumental Christmas Channel. If you want the full effect, Google "Winter Solstice" by Michele McLaughlin and start that playing in the background. 

The kids started playing with this toy and it was quickly turning into a wrestling match. I told them to please stop and be careful with it because it was really special to me. I explained that my grandpa, who was in heaven, made it and I played with it when I was little.

This seemed to calm things down until a few minutes later when Madison asked in her sweet chipmunk voice, Mommy, do you miss yuh Gwanpa? Yes I do miss him. But I'm only a little bit sad because I get to see him again one day. Silas clarified, You get to see him when you die, right Mommy? That's right Silas.

Then Silas said really excitedly, I know who's going to die first in our family!! 
YOU Mommy! He stood up on his knees and pointed at me with a beaming smile. (Backstory: Silas once asked about dying and I told him about heaven and the hope we have about meeting Jesus, who loves us more than we could ever know, and being with God in a place better than we could ever imagine. He cried and cried saying that he was afraid to go there before me. When my describing the awesomeness of heaven couldn't mend his breaking five-year-old heart, I told him I would go before him, that he didn't have to worry about it.) His joyous delivery that I was going to die first got me laughing pretty hard.

I lifted my head with tears in my eyes but my chuckles quickly died down when I saw Madison in that state of silent crying where your face is winced up, mouth open, and you still haven't made a noise. With hiccup breathing she asked, Mommy, aw you gonna die???

Oh dear.

Yes Madison, everyone dies. And when we do, guess who is going to be there? God!! He is going to wrap us up in his arms and be so happy and we get to live with him and be in the best place. There are colors we have never seen before and we wont get hurt anymore and it is so much better than here.

Then I notice Silas is now in the silent crying ugly face state.

Oh no.

But Mommy, I'm scared to go because I'm bad!!!!!!

Welp. Time to set down the ornaments.

Yeah Silas, so am I. Everyone is. That's why Jesus came. If you'll let him, he has a blanket of goodness to wrap around you. He got the blanket because he took our punishment. Are you afraid God will be angry at you because you're bad?


Well when we follow Jesus and believe in him, we have Jesus' blanket wrapped around us. I need his blanket too. I mess up just like you do. Sometimes I'm mean and lie and act selfish. But I know God loves me and wants to wrap me up. I ask him to forgive me and he does! He LOVES us!

I looked at the tree and said, This is why Christmas is such a big deal and so special. Because it's when Jesus was born and came here to save us. That's really exciting because he's our superhero and it's our superhero's birthday.

Long story short(er), Silas had peace knowing Jesus covers him. It was the first time he really seemed to get it. What an awesome moment. But the attention quickly went back to the three-year-old took who needed to fully process the emotions that come with learning that everyone, including your mommy, dies. That's a biggie. And I was ok with it. I held her while she cried for a looooooong time.

And let's just say Brian was a little shocked after leaving a house filled with Mariah Carey's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and kids squealing with excitement over Christmas goodies and returning to tear-jerker music, me sitting on the floor with Madison burying her head in my chest wailing Mommy aw you weeeeelly going to die?? I don't want you to die!!

He eventually jumped in and helped me try to lead them through learning about this painful part of life. He got to answer some fun questions about car accidents and plane crashes.

After a while I told the kids it was time to be happy and decorate the tree because we are all safe, Mommy and Daddy are healthy and feeling sad about dying was not for today. We could throw it far away because we didn't need it now.

We had to revisit the subject about 15 times after that but once I had the bright idea to CHANGE THE DAMNED CRYING CHRISTMAS MUSIC PANDORA STATION, things improved. Turns out the "Kids Christmas" channel with Winnie the Pooh singing Jingle Bells helps take your mind off of death.

The Christmas tree is now glowing in the living room with no decorations. We'll have to make another go at it tomorrow night.

Let's cross our fingers that no one asks where babies come from.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


My grandma (Mema) was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma. Before the diagnosis she was in great health so this came as a shock to her and all of the family.

Since the diagnosis I find myself watching as she talks to others. And I listen when she talks to me. I see a woman on a mission to give her worries to the one who made her and loves her. I notice that she's missing signs of resentment, bitterness, or pity. With calmness and peace she lets others care for her. She continues to love without fear. She doesn't have time to judge whether or not you want a hug so tight it will take your breath away, you better believe you're getting one. Even in the face of cancer she powerfully blesses the people around her.

Then there's my mom. Holy cow what I learn from her. I watch her take her mom dinner most week nights. She tenderly walks arm in arm with her while they shop. Her concern for her doesn't fade as the newness of chemo wears off and everyone else is back to their normal lives. She's a genuine lover. Incapable of pretense. I think she shows a glimpse of God's love that us humans don't experience often. That unique love that would never wonder what's the right thing to say or how can I make them feel better. An unwillingness to waste energy on anxiety or self-preservation when there's someone who needs caring for.

It was a profound moment when, surrounded by family in the peacefulness of camping on a crisp fall day, my mom shaved her head alongside her mom. One woman facing a threat to her life with courage and trust, another willing to sacrifice so her mom isn't alone.

What a legacy I follow.

What a privilege to learn how to love and live with depth and freedom from these women.