Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Shadow of Sadness--20 months

"The eighth of every month will always hold a shadow of sadness for Tessa and I."  That's what Emily told me this morning as I tearfully told her that I felt like no one remembered Amy yesterday on the 20 month of her passing.
A shadow of sadness. That has been my last few weeks. 

We celebrated Emily's birthday and Thanksgiving on the evening before the big day as it was the only time we could all be together. It had snowed all day. It was beautiful outside, but my heart was still heavy. Another celebration gathered around the dining room table with no Amy. Bill lightened the mood a little as he thanked God for the sacrifice of the turkey's life so we could eat it. Something very unusual for my hunter husband to acknowledge, especially since I purchased the turkey at the grocery store!
On Thanksgiving day Laura, Emily and I got all the boxes of Christmas decorations out. Right on top were Amy's little boxes of her Tinkerbell ornaments. I couldn't handle anymore than just putting all the boxes on the dining room table and leaving them there. That was hard enough. So I didn't do anything that day except ignore them as best as I could.

Saturday we all gathered again to get a family Christmas card taken. I had this all planned ahead of time. I decided to add a little humor by wearing winter hats, with Bill and I wearing Christmas hats. I'm glad I decided this early, because the day was extremely hard for me to hold it together and even  just smile. I was screaming inside for Amy to be there.  I'll share the picture we decided to use a few days before Christmas.

I finally made myself decorate.  I just felt the need to GET IT DONE. No joy,  just a necessary thing to do this year. So I  just wanted to get it done and be finished.
Amy's last Christmas with us I had purchased a small artificial tree in the after Christmas sales  to use as a Jesse tree with her in the years to come. A Jesse tree is like an advent calender with an ornament pointing to Christ each day of the month. This is something I had done when the children were little and I had missed doing it the last few years. Now what was I to do? Save it in the  special box of decorations that were Amys that I had decided to set aside to use when the grandkids were older? Then I had an idea. I would make a small memorial tree to Amy. I would put her special Tinkerbell ornaments on it and butterflies. 

A olive wood nativity that I brought home to Amy after my trip to Israel in 2001 sits in front of the tree  beside a picture that Amy made for us as a gift a few years ago.

When I had gone shopping with Tessi  I had purchased a few extra boxes of lights in case I decided to put them on the bushes at the back entrance as we have done in years past. A beautiful tree topper angel also caught my eye. We have always had a star on the top of the tree. Always. For thirty-seven years we have had a star on the top of our Christmas tree. But I was in the mood to change things this year. Tessa mentioned I could put a butterfly where the angel was holding a candle. That sold me on it. We now have a beautiful angel on top of our small tree. 
I say small because, owning a Christmas tree farm and selling trees, we always have a wide floor to ceiling tree. Sometimes I could hardly get Amy's wheelchair by the tree and out the door, it was so large!  This year, I just wanted something small. I also discovered I had thrown out the lights for the tree from the years before.  The lights go on first, so.......I had the boxes of lights I just purchased to use outside. Those would be great!

Amy's beautiful  memorial angel.

Our small Christmas tree.

I also used an extra strand of lights to wrap around Amy's picture. Emily gave me a pretty frame with Amy's picture for my birthday and Tessa gave me the lantern she used in her wedding. I just wrapped a strand of lights around this and it sets it apart and is a special area to me. 

So the Christmas season is upon us, the picture is done, the decorating is done and all of my presents are wrapped and boxed up that I have to mail out to family tomorrow.  Although it was hard for me, I see God's hand in every step of the way.  He provided me with a daughter-in-law who is a photographer and a willing family to look goofy for a Christmas card. He provided me with a unused tree to use as a memorial tree for Amy. He impressed upon me to buy extra lights so I could get my decorating done. He knew I didn't have any left to use and this avoided another trip to the store. God's hand is in every step of our lives, if we only look and see it. 

Yesterday I wasn't looking for Him, I was only sorry for myself. I had to go to the hospital for some routine blood work and I only saw death in that place, I didn't try to see the smiles or the Christmas season joy. I was letting the sadness of the day engulf me. My daughter reminded me this morning that it is only a shadow. Just as this life is only a shadow as CS Lewis has said and written about. I forget sometimes and I don't see it and it doesn't fill me with immediate joy, but........
 He is with me.  He is still writing my story. That is enough. 

Tomorrow we will be going to the school where Amy attended to share in their Christmas party. It will be another hard time, but God has a plan in this also. I spent a few hours making 28 sock snowmen for her class. I think Amy would have loved them!

Sock snowmen for Amy's classmates.  

Then we plan on stopping by the cemetery to decorate her grave. 

Praise God  because of Him I know she is not there but dancing with her Lord. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Amy's Legacy

1. a gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by will; a bequest.
2. anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor: the legacy of ancient Rome.

Today is the 19th month anniversary of Amy's leaving us. 
Has it gotten any easier?
In some ways. But I don't think my life will ever be the same; there will always be this sadness that is now a part of my soul. There are still tears, times where I feel like I can't go on. But there are more times of peace, contentment and joy than there are tears. 

Tis the season.....right?
Last year I tried to avoid Christmas. We went away for three weeks. I couldn't abide being here. 
This year we are staying home. We are facing Christmas. We are going to celebrate the best we can. 
It was painful to get out the fall decorations. I can't imagine how painful it will be to get out the Christmas ones! But I'm going to do it. 
Coming home from a shopping trip with my oldest a few days ago, we drove through a little town that always has a huge Christmas tree lit up right alongside the road. It was already lit! I was still weepy from the movie and this was just too much. Amy loved seeing Christmas lights. She loved to see that tree on our yearly shopping trip. Sometime the missing is so intense. I cried buckets.

A few weeks ago I heard the promo for a new song and I finally found it on YouTube. I have enjoyed the music of Mark Shultz since I first heard his song, "He's My Son" in 1998 or 99.  When I saw the promo for this new song I knew it would touch my heart, but not expecting it to so dramatically say what I am going through this year.

A Different Kind of Christmas
by Mark Shultz

Snow is falling Christmas Eve
Lights are coming on up and down the street
The sound of carols fills the air
And people rushing home, families everywhere

Putting candles in the windows
Lights upon the tree
But there's no laughter in this house
Not like there used to be
There's just a million little memories
That remind me you're not here
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year

In the evening fires glow
Dancing underneath the mistletoe
A letter left from Santa Claus
Won't be the same this year in this house because

There's one less place set at the table
One less gift under the tree
And a brand new ache to take their place inside of me
I'm unwrapping all these memories
Fighting back the tears
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year

There's voices in the driveway
Families right outside the door
And we'll try to make this Christmas like the ones we've had before
As we gather round the table, I see joy on every face
And I realize what's still alive is the legacy you made

It's time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It's time to fill this house with laughter like it used to be
Just because you're up in heaven, doesn't mean you're not near
It's just a different kind of Christmas
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year

The last lines shook me to my core.

And I realize what's still alive is the legacy Amy madeIt's time to put the candles in the windows, the lights upon the tree
It's time to fill our home with laughter like it used to be
Just because Amy's up in heaven, doesn't mean she's not near
It's just a different kind of Christmas this year.

But what is Amy's legacy?  She didn't own property, she didn't have anything of worldly value that she left to us. She couldn't speak or write, so there is not even anything in print that was from her hand. What is her legacy?

These are some of the things that Amy left me:

--because of Amy I have the ability to see all forms of disabilities with love and compassion 
--Amy loved with unconditional love.No matter my physical or mental pain, can I love others the way she taught me to love?
--Because of her love for certain things I have the knowledge of every line to Veggie Tales and Disney movies memorized. (I'm trying my best to forget Hannah Montana).

I asked my husband to think on this and gave him a few days. He said that Amy's legacy is the impact she made on other people. 

If Amy made an impact on your life, if she changed you somehow by knowing her, if she left you a legacy............
will you tell me? 
I need to know to be able to DO Christmas this year. 
I need to know that her life meant something to others beside just me.  
Please comment, message me, email me, or the old fashioned way of writing a note. 
I am going to print them out so I can remember, when I hit those low moments, of what Amy's legacy is.