Rainbow on Christmas Eve
Lights are just blinking on as we make our way back up the street. Green, red, blue, gold. Some of our neighbors went all out. One of the houses chimes a Christmas melody in time with the lights. It’s here I pause waiting for the pain to subside. My husband looks down at me in silence but his expression asks me if I’m okay. Smiling, I loosen my grip on his arm and we continue the trek back to our house, leaving behind the house’s tinny “Carol of the Bells.”
This time of year—this stage in life—should be a time of rejoicing. I’m a veteran when it comes down to this moment. I don’t fear the pain. I know what to expect. My body knows what to do and it’s all instinctual for me now. That’s why I pace the neighborhood, holding off the drive to the hospital until I’m sure. No reason to be poked and prodded while confined to four walls any longer than necessary. Thankfully our oldest is at an age to watch the younger kids until my parents arrive. We can leave immediately if we need to, but no need to hurry anyone over to the house for a false alarm.
Yet as I pause at another house—the one with the ridiculous looking reindeer and an elf slowly ringing a bell—the ghost of the past haunts me. I become conscious that I’m timing my breathing to “Carol of the Bells” even though we are long out of earshot of the chiming house. The due date was supposed to be August 25th. The two pink lines showed a positive pregnancy earlier in the week, but I waited to Christmas day to surprise the family, so everyone got a kick out of the doctor declaring the due date as the 25th, even if it was in the middle of summer. Four weeks later, there was no heartbeat. Our little Christmas spirit had flown away.
As we walk away from the elf and his bell, I catch a glimpse of my husband’s smartphone before he snaps the screen off. He shoves his phone in his pocket, a look of guilt written across his face. He knows I saw the headline, but neither of us acknowledge it. The children. I cried for a week after the news, and my kids don’t even go to that school. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s the mis… We don’t talk about it. I avoided the news and social media for the last two weeks. School was about to be let out for the holidays then the unthinkable, which seems to have become all too commonplace, happened. Why is it always the children?
Yet no one mentioned the incident at church beyond “praying for the victims.” And judging by the headline, it was only back in the news because the incident was being politicized. How quickly we like to forget the grieving! Was I not guilty of it myself? I had no words of comfort to offer those that lost so much. There are no words of comfort. The pastor read from Matthew last Sunday. I ended up excusing myself to the restroom. (We are three houses away from ours, the one with the three wise men, when I nearly double over in pain. I think this is the real deal.)
In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.
Usually, people skip that part of the Christmas story. I straighten and the baby gives a hard kick. “I’m here,” she says. I rest my hand on my belly, comforted by her strength yet grieving the other that is not.
I shake my head at the wise men as we leave the manger scene. The wise men actually came much later. They greeted the Child in a house. A house the family was soon after forced to flee as a raging king slew every child in the countryside two years of age and younger.
For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on Earth, good will to men.
That was another song about bells.
My husband rings the doorbell because the kids locked us out.
I give the oldest last-minute instructions and admonish the younger kids to be good. My bag’s already in the car and my husband calls my parents. It’s time. The littlest
wants to go with me so he can give his new baby sister his baby Yoda—I can never remember the green child’s actual name. I kiss my son’s forehead and take the thing under my arms promising to give it to her. We leave the kids wrapped up in a Star Wars movie they must’ve seen a hundred times—“Revenge of the Sith.”
… weeping for her children…
We drive through the night. Stars above. Lights around us. One home is arrayed in gaudy gold. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Those were the gifts of the wise men. Not your typical baby gifts. My husband glances at me and I charge him to watch the road. I try to keep my breaths deep. Maybe we should’ve left sooner. The babies seem to come faster as I get older. One wouldn’t wait at all. Myrrh. The preacher said it was a precious liquid used for a variety of things, including embalming. Myrrh, for the baby that came to die.
… and would not be comforted, because they are not.
My husband whips the car in by the entrance. My water breaks as he helps me out of the car. Soon we’re in a room. They check me, but I can tell by how I’m feeling that the baby will be here soon. I’d give her an hour tops. Mixed emotions flood me. Joy, fear, hope, grief. Then the pain consumes all.
I came to forgive those that seemed to ignore my loss. They avoided the topic like I avoided the news. It was harder to forgive those that tried to minimize it. “At least it happened early in the pregnancy.” Because age matters when you lose a child? “You’re blessed with four beautiful children.” As though children are replaceable. “But you have a healthy baby now.” I have a healthy baby that wouldn’t have been here if…
She’s in my arms—my beautiful baby. Love floods my heart. In a couple days she’ll meet her brothers and sisters, yet I will always see the one that isn’t there. She’s asleep and I’m exhausted, but it’s with reluctance I lay her in the basinet by my hospital bed. A nurse places a little rainbow on her basinet above her name. A life lost, a life gained. I ask my husband for my Bible and open it to the book of John—a familiar story.
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother…
God sent His Son to die. God knows the loss in my heart. Christmas is about death—and the life that is promised to all who believe. Jesus, the One who conquered death, holds my Christmas angel in His arms. I close my eyes resting in the Peace only He can give.
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