The first Christmas after my husband’s passing, I felt numb, in disbelief, engulfed in sorrow, and oh so alone. I attempted to put on my mask and proceed forward for my daughters’ well-being. However, isolation seemed to grasp me as the rest of the world appeared to remain untouched and intact. The second year without my beloved husband, the denial and shock had worn off and unfathomable grief blanketed me; although, I started to feel glimpses, splatters and random moments of wonder amidst the tears.

In the past, in my Wednesday’s Hope for Widow’s blog, I have shared about my youngest daughter who has severe autism. She is a blessing and a gift that never ceases to teach and dazzle me. During our second Christmas as an incomplete family unit, she adamantly decided she wasn’t going to open her Christmas presents until Daddy returned home.

As I have to prepare her for all facets of life, I spent the month of December doing festive crafts, seasonal lesson plans, and Christmas activities with her. Despite all my efforts, Christmas day came and she wouldn’t even go towards the tree. Until my oldest, married daughter, who is full of such insight, suggested that we change the environment and add some new traditions. Lo and behold, when we visited their home, my youngest decided without prompting to miraculously open her gifts! Her sweet smile returned and beamed. I stood in astonishment at this turn of events.

No, this change of plans didn’t solve or take away our pain, but it forced us to re-think, redefine, and come to the realization that our sense of wonder was not completely gone. That life can be agonizing, yet magical…fragile, yet full of miracles….seemingly complex, yet intricately intriguing, devastatingly catastrophic, yet divine all simultaneously. I had to relearn how to regain that sense of appreciation and awe again.

On the way back from my oldest daughter’s and son-in-law’s home, Amy Grant’s version of “Grown –Up Christmas List” serenaded us. The line, “I am not a child, but my heart can still dream” became etched into my being. Next, “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” reminded me of when I was a children’s choir director. I had explained to my choir members that an Episcopal minister from Philadelphia, Phillips Brooks, had written this carol in 1868, after returning from the Holy Land at Christmas time three years earlier. His words encapsulated the marvel of the little town, that the everlasting Light is ever present, and that the silent and even secret way that our Savior came into this world provides hope and wonder.

Upon returning home, I opened some Christmas cards. The first one had this quote in glitter from Mary Summer Rain, “May your mind forever sparkle like a star, your heart remain pure as new fallen snow, and your spirit forever sense the wonder of a child.”

This third year, I can’t deny, I still long and ache for my husband. I believe I always will. Nevertheless, as life beckons us and Joe Batten so profoundly urged, “Never lose your sense of wonder.”

If you are in the same situation that I am, striving to hold-on to the opulence of your everlasting love, merging your old life with your new life and attempting to embrace your future, please receive and relish the unremitting charms and wonder that surrounds you.

Christmas Blessings to You,

Lisa Dempsey Bargewell

My blog topic for next Wednesday: Live the Life You’ve Imagined