I've been trying really hard the last couple of weeks not to think about Dad and Christmas. I've been trying not to picture years past of being with him on the farm, or at the new house, or when he walked through the door here in the condo with his homemade hors d'oeuvres in hand.
I've been trying so hard not to think about the way he'd pat my cheek or touch under my chin with his hand and speak more with the gestures than he ever could with words. I been trying not to think of that smile or that laugh or those hands that so easily held mine.
He thrived among his family, when his kids and grandkids were around him. But he managed to thrive equally when it was just the three of us here in the condo, too. He took up so much space in this world ... space that contained love and laughter and meaning and depth.
I've been trying not to think of those things so I don't have to think of this year without it all. I've been trying to think instead of all the ways I'm going to fill up my space so it doesn't feel like he's missing.
But, try as I might, he is missing. There will still be that space of silence ... the kind of silence that screams loudly into the void where our world was all at once split open.
In the last five months I haven't been able to look at my world without him. I look at my mom's grief, I look at my siblings longing, and I can talk with them about our new reality. But if I look at my individual loss... what my life is missing... I can't take it. So I've learned to constantly look at the one who this is really all about.
I look at Dad.
Because the truth is, if I make this about me I am destroyed. If I make this about Dad I am rejoicing.
I can't even fathom the emotions Dad has in his new spiritual perspective of being surrounded in Christ, rather than his human perspective of knowing Christ. I can't fathom the joy of complete peace and understanding and acceptance into the arms of the most loving spirit unimaginable.
All I know is that I could not get through Christmas, through life, through this journey of death, if I didn't know a sweet little baby was born in a manger. I couldn't breathe every day if God wouldn't have sacrificed his Son, sent among the simple, just so my life could be redeemed.
Because that baby in that stable was our promise of the eternal.
I can rejoice this Christmas because it's about Jesus' love for us... and His gift of salvation and eternal life and a promise that one day – one day – I'll celebrate this amazing gift with my dad again. He can hold my hand and touch my chin and relay the emotions that words can't touch.
The emotion of being surrounded in Christ on Christmas day.