Momentary Lapses

This blog was created during a momentary lapse, a period when I'm stuck in my writing and trying to jog something loose in my brain or push myself so close to deadline that I can kill, without remorse, the beloved opening or headline or quote that is keeping me from moving forward. Most of my posts here will have to do with writing, including occasional Favorite Writing Quotes (FWQs). Please share yours, and your comments, too.

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Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Thrill of Hope

Our snug little house glowed with light and color, but there was no holiday cheer in our hearts in December, 1985.

The Christmas tree spread its festive branches in the corner where a crib had stood two months earlier. The garlands and candles adorned surfaces once cluttered with diapers and baby toys and medical supplies. And the silk poinsettias and mistletoe brimmed in baskets left over from the sympathy bouquets for our precious Ellen Marie.

We were weary, drained by our little girl's death as we had not been by the challenging fifteen months of her life. No more intensive care, no more surgery, no more night nurses, oxygen tanks, and sudden returns to the hospital.

No bright-eyed little girl with the silent, joyous laugh snuggled trustingly in our empty arms.

We plunged into the bustle of the holidays, tramping the shopping malls, grateful for the busy-ness of the season that made it easier, for a time, to fill the empty hours and spaces. But Christmas day itself loomed bleak and joyless for our small family circle. There would be no children, just a star on the tree from Baby's First Christmas, her last.

But just as the coming of Jesus transformed the world, another child came to us on Christmas Eve, bringing comfort and hope and joy.

The first hint of his presence was a faint blue tint on a strip of plastic that should have stayed white. The doctor at the hospital wrote down dates and shook his head, but ordered the blood test out of pity for us on Christmas Eve. And late that afternoon, the good news came from a calm voice on the telephone, without trumpet blasts or angel choirs--but we heard them just the same.

That night our snug little house glowed inside and out. And the next day, there were smiles and tears of joy mingled with the sadness. The talk around our Christmas dinner table was of the future as well as the past and the might-have-been.

In our rejoicing over our own Christmas Child, we knew the wonder and beauty of the coming of the infant Jesus. For what speaks so much of hope and promise and boundless possibilities as a baby, a new life that changes the lives of others simply by being?

"A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!" The great gift of Christmas came to our sorrowing family in the unseen presence of a little child. On that day and through the dreary winter months, his life renewed ours.

It was to be his great gift to us.

In the spring we learned that our Christmas Child would not live long after birth. Brian David was born on the evening of September 6, 1986, and died forty minutes later. We held him close and spoke to him softly, words of comfort and love and gratitude.

It has been more than twenty years since that Christmas of deep despair and redeeming hope. Kevin and I have been blessed with Dennis, Tim and Greg--three boisterous, beautiful sons who enrich our lives immeasurably. Our house is decked with lights and decorations and alive with young voices.

Christmas is indeed a time of joy, but it is also the season of hope, of God's love coming to us in human form.

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