Photo Credit: Jon Hansen, CsSR
Originally Published in Living with Christ, Wisdom from our friends
For most of my life, Advent was a time of preparing for Jesus’ coming, a joyful and prayerful time. We baked cookies and froze them, eagerly anticipating when it would be time to eat them. We practiced waiting, not so patiently, for midnight Mass followed by presents and food.
Then I lost a baby to miscarriage and a sister to murder, and everything about Advent and Christmas felt wrong. My arms should be holding five babies instead of just four. Everyone arrived but my sister and her laugh. Claire and Abbie were anchors in my world, and I felt adrift without them, stuck somewhere between the ordinary time before I lost them and the joy I was supposed to feel but couldn’t.
And then I wondered what it felt like for God to send Jesus to us at Christmas. To send a part of his own heart to another world. To weave his Son into Mary’s womb and entrust this fetal God to a world that could hurt him. To be without him, until it is accomplished. Death was not the original plan, and Jesus’ birth is the first part in our salvation story. To work out our healing and draw us to himself, God experienced a loss like mine. He put an anchor in our world and waited.
In the nearly three years since Claire and Abbie died, I have been adjusting to having anchors in another world. There are moments when their absence is heavy, where I feel pulled under with sadness. When the chocolates are tucked away in my pantry, I feel Abbie hiding in there, the same way she always did to eat them without having to share with the kids. I hear her children laughing and it reminds me that joy is possible here and now, even with her in heaven. When the sun rises again, I remember how beautiful the morning was when we lost Claire. Beauty is a bridge between heaven and earth if I will drink it in.
There is no going back to a world with them in it. There is only adjusting to an anchor in another world, allowing my daughter and my sister to whisper to me here—from there. Adjusting is messy. I can change the plan, make a new memory, sit with my tears under the tree. The miracle of Christmas is that Jesus comes to sit with us in whatever these days bring. He was sent by the Father, bound by the Spirit, and Christmas is the celebration that the distance between this world and the next is not so far away.
May our hearts be held this Advent by the God who waits with us and for us. May our anchors in this world and the world to come be close to our hearts. And may Christmas bring healing and hope for our hearts and our world, today and always, Amen.