Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Christmas without Samuel

It's hard to believe this was our third Christmas without Samuel.  It was easier this year to face Christmas without him, partly because more time has passed and partly because Anna has been such a healing force in our lives.  We still hung his stocking up (and always plan to), and Bryan commented numerous times that 6 stockings seems like A LOT -- that four kids seems like so many.  Our fireplace did seem really full this year.

Every year we use what would have been Samuel's Christmas money to bless others, and this year we decided to join our friends the Stanleys (Caden's family) in their endeavor to bring Christmas joy to those in the CICU.  We contributed to the baskets they made, which you can read about in detail here and here.  I also wrote 20 notes, one for each basket, telling the families that we are praying for them and their child, and made some treats for the baskets as well.  I love what the Stanleys did, and I love that we can continue to be part of bringing some encouragement or thanks to a place we hold so dear to our hearts.

Each year we put some token in Samuel's stocking to represent how we spent his Christmas money.  This year we added a pacifier with a heart on it to represent the heart babies whose families received a basket.  I enjoyed looking back over the things from the past few years and even rereading the letters we wrote him in 2009.  I added a new letter this year as well.  It is easier to write Samuel now, and it feels like sending him a little love from earth to his perfect home in Heaven.  I know he is already full to the brim of love in the very presence of Jesus and in need of no more, but I like the thought of sending just a smidge more his way.

My brother's family and my mom came from Texas to spend Christmas with us at our house, and that was a true joy.  Our house was bursting with children (6 in all), laughter, and Christmas magic.  It was wonderful.  Probably the best blessing of it all was my niece June.  June, who is 16 hours younger than Samuel, offers me a picture of what my little boy might be up to in Heaven.  She is so good for my soul.  June is friendly and very sweet, and I would regularly look down to find her at my knee, reaching for me to scoop her up and cuddle her.  She would wiggle her way into my lap and lean against me, and her favorite thing to do was look at my mommy necklace.  It has a charm for each of my children as well as a birthstone for their birth months.  She would look at each charm and ask who it was for.  My favorite moment was when she held Samuel's charm and said, "This is for Samuel?"  It is so hard for me to believe that Samuel would be talking in complete sentences and be such a big boy by now.  June also blessed my heart by loving Anna.  She would get down on the floor next to Anna and play with her.  They would lay on their tummies face-to-face and talk and smile at one another.  June would reach out and touch Anna'a face and talk so sweetly to her.  It made my heart full to see and made me wonder how Samuel would have felt about his baby sister.  And no surprise, Joel doted on June, kissing her often and being the amazing boy he is.  June really is a gift to us, and I am so thankful that I have her for my niece.

The hardest part of Christmas was learning that sweet Hallie went home to Heaven on Christmas Eve.  I haven't been able to quit thinking about the Greens and hurting for them.  And each new grief stirs up my own, so my longing for Samuel was deepened as I imagined their pain and heartache.

Though I miss my Samuel terribly, I find it easier and easier to think of him and smile.  What a gift that baby boy continues to be to our family.  He continues to bless us, to change us, to make us more fully God's.  I am so grateful for him, for the time we had to love him in person, and for the time ahead when we'll be together again.  This Christmas reminded me of the future we will spend together and of the indescribable gift of baby Jesus.


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  2. Oh my goodness! The picture of Anna with the red hat on reminds me so much of Caleb! I stared at the picture for a few minutes and remembered Kebbie when he was that little. Crazy!