This is the season of lights; the season we light candles for so many reasons. The menorahs, the advent wreaths, the vigils and memorials. So many things to light candles for this year.
My family has an advent log. It was cut and drilled by my father-in-law and my children rolled the advent candles out of bee’s wax. Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent – so far we’ve lit two purple candles for HOPE and PEACE and yesterday we lit the pink candle for JOY.
In this time of waiting, we are reminded to have hope, peace, and joy.
But this year it is harder than usual.
It feels a bit wrong to be singing Christmas carols and wishing folks Merry Christmas! when we know that especially this year there are even more people hurting. Even more people who are going to struggle to have hope, and peace, and joy ever again, because there will forever be an empty chair at their table.
And yet, if we don’t manage to once again have hope, peace, and joy, then how do we honor those 26 people from Connecticut who are gone? The 2 from Oregon? (And the 1000s of others, of course.)
I’m not sure. I just know that the only way is through.
Over the weekend I, of course, thought about my own 6 year old. I thought about how his life has changed mine. I thought about how open and honest and big his feelings and dreams are. He is a good reminder for me that I must have hope for all our tomorrows. I must find peace in order to enjoy those tomorrows. And I must have joy in order to be fully present in those tomorrows.
Friday, after I told my kids about the shooting, I told them that I would probably need to hug them a bit more over the weekend and into the tomorrows. That hugging them would help me feel better. Littlest smiled, snuggled up to my side, and let me give him a squeeze. “No problem Mom, hug me all you want.”
That night, as I tucked him in one last time, I couldn’t help myself. I lay my head on his chest and counted his heartbeats. Seventy-four times his heart beat under my ear. Snuggled between his collection of stuffed critters and his “lovey”, his head looked so small on his pillow. His lashes fanned across his cheeks, his breath even and soft.
Seventy-four times he reminded me that at least for that moment, all was well.
Next door, Biggest was sprawled across his bed like he was still a toddler. Blankets spilled onto the floor, limbs akimbo, and mumbling in his sleep, he slept. I attempted to tuck him back in. No sooner than I brushed a kiss across his brow did he thrust a leg out from the covers, undoing my careful ministrations.
And then, Middlest. She sleeps so still. Always has. I stood there and listened to her breathing. I debated and finally my need was too much: I leaned over and carefully kissed her cheek. And she “harrumphed” in her sleep and rolled over.
I thank Littlest for being so small that he doesn’t object to being tucked in and snuggled, to having his mama kiss him and hug him and check to see if his heart still beats. And I thank Middlest and Biggest for being so big as to remind me that as much as we all can, we are going to be alright. That we will get through this.
We will have hope, and peace, and joy again.