By Mike Whalen
Rarely do I find solace in religion or Biblical stories but I find myself reflecting on the Christmas story. Today we gathered to celebrate the birth of a child. This child, the Christ child, was born to suffer and die. Aren’t we all though? Birth, suffer, death. Repeat. Mary seems uniquely positioned in this story. Always being depicted as a figure of peace, love and sorrow. A mother who gives the ultimate sacrifice, whose child is not hers but belongs to everyone. A mother who must bear witness to both life and death. However, to focus solely on loss is to lose focus. We rejoice in this season to remind ourselves of the miracle of a child’s birth and here is where I find myself at a loss.
I sit poised between the loss of a life never lived and the potential of a life yet to be. I couldn’t imagine what today was going to be like ten months ago when we lost Dorothy. I continue to mourn her everyday. The pain is acute in those moments when you wonder what life would be like with her here. What would she be doing? What kind of person would she be becoming now? I think of how different our tree would have looked with presents for her under its branches. I try to give space for those moments because that’s all I get with her.
Frances’ impending arrival has tempered the day. While mourning Dorothy we have the joy of planning what life will be like for Frances. What will her nursery look like? What will we dress her in when we bring her home from the hospital? I get to feel her kick and roll every day. I try to make sure I spend time savoring every moment of her here with us. Both girls have their space in my heart and each requires my attention in different ways.
Today has been a day of joyful sadness. I am joyful at the prospect at becoming a father to Frances. I am joyful that we are celebrating our first Christmas in a home of our own. I am joyful for the love friends and family who have supported us in so many big and little ways. I’m saddened that Dorothy isn’t here in the way we want her to be.
Perhaps the Christmas story is one of love and joy because it is only through true and profound love which we can experience grief and loss. Without celebration, love and joy the Christ story is too awful to tell. A child born to die by an ungrateful mob lacks the charm of a star, shepherds, and three wise men. So today we chose to both celebrate our blessings and grieve our loss. We embrace our place of joy,sorrow, and anxiety as we start a new year.
Good night and merry Christmas.