If Thanksgiving is a time for appreciativeness, then Christmas is about hope. At least it has been for me.
This year I'm overwhelmed with it. Hope that this cold will FINALLY go away. Hope that Santa will deliver a signed purchase and sale contract on that new house for us. That this home search will end, once and for all. (And you would to if you'd seen the things we've seen: houses full of birds and life-size female mannequins dressed as superheroes, swings hanging from ceilings. Yes, you'd be praying for it to cease too. Truuuuusssssttttt meeeee.)
As I sit here waiting for the seller's final answer after countering the counter of our counter offer I can't help but realize how different this year is--how different my hopes have become.
Twelve years ago today, at this same exact hour, I was sitting, waiting. Soon the doctors would be making rounds. Soon we would know if our newborn son Bob would be going home for Christmas or not. I wished for it with all my heart--that he would be healthy enough to do so now that he was out of the ICU. But it was bittersweet, my hope. And it seemed so shallow.
Only days before he'd undergone neurosurgery. I'd sat there as well in the waiting room, frantic. My baby was only weeks old. It was only days before Christmas. In my protected lifetime, I'd never had to go through something so difficult, and it felt like my soul was about to crack under the fear and terror I was feeling. (Of course, I didn't know then I'd be back in that same room or same ICU with my oldest son. That this would become my life. But then the universe is kind that way, no?)
A woman was waiting across from me. Her face looked so familiar. Finally she came over and introduced herself. It turned out she was my old neighbor. Though she was a few years older, we'd grown up together, lived only houses apart. She'd once been a beauty pageant winner, the leader of the popular girls, someone I'd always been in awe of. She was still beautiful. Almost glowing.
She explained her seven-month-old son was undergoing surgery for a cancerous brain tumor. His second in less than twenty-four hours. The fifth of his short life. His brain had swollen, dangerously so. They weren't sure he'd make it.
I remember staring at her. At how calm and together she seemed. At the pride that oozed from her as she described her baby and five other children. At her hope that he would pull through this surgery as he had the others. At all their hopes that the boy would live long enough so they could spend his first, and his last, Christmas Day with him.
But she'd made peace with it all. No one ever promised us we'd get a tomorrow, she'd said. So you live and love each day as hard as you can and just hope for that tomorrow.
Her hopes came true.
So did mine. However shallow and bittersweet I felt them to be--hope is hope is hope, after all. We made it home for Christmas, my husband and I and our tiny baby. Just as I'd dreamed. And I learned something I'd never forget, something that would get me through everything and anything that came into my life from that day forward. Even houses full of mannequins.
Know that someone is struggling more, hurting more, losing more. Always. Be grateful for everything you have, and I mean everything, for it is so precious. Always. And have hope. No matter how dark or hopeless the situation seems. There is hope. Always.
Especially at Christmas time.
I wish you all a hope-filled holiday season. I wish you all a hope-filled life. And meanwhile, I shall continue to hope that Santa shows up soon with that signed P&S before I explode from impatience--because I'm starting to suspect I really might if we don't hear something soon...