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Thursday, December 21, 2017
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What kinds of things does a widow anticipate during the Advent and Christmas season?  The word feels a little familiar, and loaded with triggers, and yet so foreign too.  There was a time three years ago that my family began what we would come to recognize as “anticipatory grieving.”  My husband had been diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and was deep in the thick of chemo treatments and the shock and emotion that comes with seeing that daunting gauntlet looming.  We knew he probably didn’t have long, though we held fast to all the hope we could muster.  A blend of hope and sorrow followed us closely throughout each day, and we silently began saying our goodbyes, in the choices we made and in the sudden best place to buy viagra online reviews ability to see each day for what it was – an extremely precious gift.  Our friends and family were doing the same, gathering in, visiting, loving each of us a little more presently than they had before.  Each of our “anticipating” somehow made the unexpected shortening of his days more bearable.

Flash forward to Advent 2017 and I am at a middle school orchestra concert with a dear friend and her family, to listen to their 7th grader play his bass and enjoy a little holiday cheer.   For any of you who have been to elementary and middle school concerts, you know that there are many missed notes and a cacophony of what isn’t always exactly what you had hoped would be in the melody mix.  The group isn’t always perfectly together and the music doesn’t flow the way you hear it in your mind.  We anticipate this. If you go in prepared for this likelihood, and revel in their growing and the joy of their learning, the whole thing can be completely delightful.  If you don’t, you may leave with a headache and a permanent wince on your face.

Anticipating helps our outlook and our attitude toward the unknown.  There are some things that can be guessed at, based on what we’ve seen or learned in the past.  Having been to my own son’s high school holiday Wind Ensemble concert days before, I knew what can become of these earlier grade school experiences.  The unbelievable beauty of a gym filled with practically perfect music from the choirs and orchestras and top bands, lifting spirits and the pride in every parent’s heart – and a sense of such rich accomplishment by the students themselves.  Good and beautiful things surely come from the messiest earlier moments in life.

So what am I anticipating this Christmas?  I’ve spent the last two years deliberately choosing to abandon our old traditions, to fly by the seat of our pants, and fly to warmer destinations, leaving our old traditional Christmases behind.  We didn’t think we could bear them, the kids and I, the feeling of everything being off and not in sync, of Christmas morning with all the trimmings of a lifetime past, but no clear picture of what our new lives would hold without him.  It was messy, but exactly what we needed to grow.  Florida and Texas and grandparents beckoned us with welcoming rays of hope and welcoming arms of love.

And now it’s our third Christmas without him.  My daughter has spent her first semester away at college and is back home, and we are staying here.  The house and the tree are decorated much like they used to be.  We are anticipating a quiet blessedness in our time together Christmas morning, even with a collective lump in our throats and a wistful remembering of his disgruntled ruffled early morning presence.  We anticipate this because we’ve seen good things happen and all kinds of unexpected healing take place in our lives over time.  It may not be perfect, but by the grace of God, we are making our way back to the perfectly lovely enough.



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