Today, I put my Nativity set up, put a wreath on the front door, and I put a festive runner and some other decorations on my dining room table. I feel very accomplished today (partly because I also cleaned while I decorated...).
So, my house is starting to look more Christmasy, and I have mixed emotions about it. If God doesn't perform a healing miracle for Caroline, this will be her only Christmas. I'm still including her in as much as I can. Our Christmas cards will have her name along with Cameron's and mine. We're going to get her a stocking to hang up with ours. We bought her some "first Christmas" ornaments
(Cameron and I both picked one out). And I'm so happy we're doing all of that.
It just hurts to think this may be the only time we get to do anything "with" her for Christmas.
Before diagnosis, I was looking forward to Christmas because we would have a registry of baby stuff and would probably get some of it for Christmas. I would probably be starting to put together Caroline's nursery. We would have fun talking about next Christmas and how much fun Caroline would have opening presents. I had it all worked out in my head. Of course I didn't know for sure what all of that would look like in actuality, but it was fun to daydream.
Now this Christmas is bittersweet. We can rejoice that we get to spend it with Caroline, and hope and pray that we still get to have her next year. But we won't really be getting any fun baby stuff for Christmas. We won't be preparing a nursery. We won't be talking about next Christmas. It's a little hard to think about, so that's probably why I haven't been too much in the Christmas spirit yet.
Something sweet did happen today though. I pulled out my Nativity set and put it out. I've been a believer most of my life, and my family is very faithful as well. We've always had a Nativity set out at Christmas. We've always made sure that the real Christmas story was part of our celebrating. And while I've always appreciated it, this year, it was a little more special to me.
I don't know why, but as I pulled out my figures of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and a couple other characters, I felt as if I was able to see for the first time the real Christmas story. They were real people. They weren't just characters in a story or actors on a stage. Mary was a very young woman, having her first child, knowing she would eventually lose him. I wonder how she felt on that first Christmas, giving birth to the child they named Jesus, knowing He was God and knowing He would die to save the world. Don't forget that they were also afraid that the king, Herod, would kill Jesus, and were warned by angels to flee the area. Mary gave birth in a stable, surrounded my animals. I just can't imagine. In a lot of ways, Mary and Jesus had it a lot worse than me.
I'll give birth in a clean hospital, with lots of support from my family and the medical professionals I've been working with. Unless God heals her, I also know Caroline won't have long on this earth. I'll know she won't have to suffer like Jesus did. I won't have to run for my life from someone trying to kill me or my child. I'll know that she's going right to Jesus.
I still ask God to heal Caroline. I still believe He could. I also have to accept that He might not. So...Christmas is a little weird for me this year. I am so grateful for Jesus coming down to earth, for dying for me, raising himself from the dead so we won't be defeated by death any longer. I am so grateful that because He did that, I now have free access to God through the Holy Spirit, who has been walking right alongside me this whole time, comforting me and sustaining me. I'm so grateful that I know earthly death is not the end for Caroline or for me, but that we will exist eternally together in God's presence. I also hurt when I think about Caroline going to that eternity before me. My heart aches that I might not get another Christmas with her. So many mixed emotions.
Just as in everything, I know God will sustain me through this season. I know He will give me the strength to endure whatever comes. I hope that He will give me "my" miracle, but I also hope that I can glorify Him no matter what happens. This is tough. This holiday season will be tough. I can already feel how challenging it will be lean on the Lord and not be overcome by sadness or hopelessness, but I also know my prayers for Him to help me through it will be answered. I want to focus on the Gift He gave us through His birth, death, and resurrection, not on my own possible loss or pain.
I know there will be tears this Christmas. I know I will hurt. But I also know God is bigger than that, and that He loves me enough to meet me where I am. That's the real Christmas spirit...being surrounded by the love of Christ.
I'm so glad God took the time to remind me what's really important this Christmas. It's not about me, or my family, or Caroline. It's not about pretty decorations or cookies or anything else we tend to do at Christmas. It's about the Son of God, who humbled Himself to come to earth for our sakes, so we would know how much He loves us.
Oh, how He loves us.