You ever get into organizational mode, plan a bunch of fun stuff and then all of a sudden, life changes your plans? This post is not going to be about weight loss or healthy eating or exercising. This is going to be about being mentally flexible, ready and willing when life starts pitching grenades to find the lessons, to keep the joy.
I'm 50 so that makes my parents and in-laws, uh hum, older. They are at the age we dread, when an illness that was manageable at an earlier age can become a bit of a challenge. We are so fortunate that they are all active and busy and still making huge contributions to the world they live in, lucky and blessed, until this year.
We had our trip home for Christmas planned. We had a cabin rented on the Little Red River in Arkansas and we had been planning and scheming for months. Our grown children would meet us there and we would have a wonderful week of cooking favorite meals, playing games, visiting relatives and enjoying each other. Oh and a visit from Santa Claus was hoped for activity too.
Then we get the call on December 12th. My husband's mom is heading to the emergency room...in one of those quaint little Arkansas towns that has a hospital but it is only equipped for certain things. Then the call that she is going to be intubated and sent to Little Rock. Apparently a fast moving pneumonia had invaded her body and gone septic. She was sooo sick. That Friday afternoon we rushed to Little Rock from Memphis only to hear she might not make it. It was devastating news.
She somehow managed to make it through the night, I believe prayers and God's grace were more to thank than anything. But the days that followed were scary, difficult days as we hovered around her bed in CCU and watched every monitor as if it were the most fascinating, important set of information ever given to mankind, because to us it was. We took turns sleeping at the hospital in case something happened during the night. We camped out in the waiting room and spent more time with each other than we probably have in the last ten years. And all the while, Christmas loomed.
Like most families, Christmas is a big deal at my in-laws. Its a day of snacking on our classic favorites and trying some new things out on each other. Its a day of visiting and sharing and celebrating the greatest gift of all time. But Christmas 2014 was not going to be any of the usual things. We wondered if we could pull off something at the hospital. We tried to get excited about just a small pot luck but every time we talked about it or thought about it we knew we were facing a very sad moment when we all grouped together, minus the one in bed fighting for her life. We just couldn't do it. But then one of the grandkids, suggested we sing Christmas Carols to Grandma.
We used to do this every year, light Grandma's collection of Christmas candles and sit around and sing Christmas carols. As the grandchildren got older this was harder to do and carols were on one year and off the next. But for some of us, singing carols was the highlight of the day.
Well the idea bounced around and received a little positive feedback but no plans were ever made. I kind of thought it wouldn't happen, maybe it would be awkward. Maybe no one really wanted to. But on Christmas Eve we found ourselves in the waiting room talking and it came up again. Not everyone was there but there were enough of us. We gathered in my Mother-in-law's room and quietly began singing. We did the best we could through tears and shaky voices and avoided the more difficult songs that would have really done us in. We were wrapping up with We Wish You a Merry Christmas and I thought we were ending there.
Then through the still silence, my 80 something year old Father-in-Law began to sing Silent Night. Whether his voice was shaky through age or sadness I do no not know but the first few notes trembled in his throat as we all listened before joining in. Mom's favorite carol. It was the sweetest most tender moment - like the moment a baby enters the world- pure love - I wanted to melt. I thought about the words - Silent Night - Holy Night - All is calm - All is bright.
Mary and Joseph didn't have the life they planned for, they received a different life, a more blessed life. We did not have the Christmas we planned for, we had something more precious and real than we could ever have asked for. For in those quiet moments, in that CCU room, with a different kind of light blinking and tears threatening, this precious woman that took me under her wing many years ago and called me daughter, had never been so collectively loved, prayed for, revered or looked upon with sweet tenderness.
She continues to fight to get her life back. She is coming back to us little by little and is finding her way. She still has a long way to go but we are hoping and praying. And we are thankful. Our family pulls together in the tough times. We flex and bend and readjust. It's what we do. It's what Mom would want us to do.
Christmas Eve was not what I had planned. But I was just this side of Heaven as we stood around Jo's bed and experienced God's greatest gift, pure, innocent, unconditional love, a true miracle on earth. It was a Silent, Holy Night.
That's All ~ Thanks Y'all