Warning: this blog post is filled with excessively sentimental writing. The end of this pregnancy has inspired some serious thinking. And, well, 'tis the season to clear my mind.
My mom pointed out in an email that both my grandmother and I have experienced what it is like to be expecting this time of year (Mom was born December 31st), and so I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. Pregnant or not, this time of year is filled with great expectations: Christmas is coming, plans are underfoot to see family we haven’t seen for a while, new beginnings lie just around the corner with the new year. We have advent calendars and paper chains and shopping lists. We are all waiting for something. My grandmother once told me how much she enjoyed this time of year when she was pregnant, sitting in the dark with my grandfather during the blackouts (it was WWII), singing Christmas carols, and discussing names for the baby. I love this picture of a young family making the most of uncertain times; I love that it was my mom—eventually named Carol—whom they were discussing and, literally, singing into this world.
I’ve also spent some time thinking about Mary. Yes, that Mary, the Mary. I’ve been feeling quite sympathetic for her, due to the discomforts that come along at the end of a pregnancy. If the Gutsy Dad turned to me and said “Hop up on the donkey, honey, we’re going on a road trip,” do you think my response would be full of grace? (More like: “No. No. Ow. And, no. Can’t we send in an absentee census form?”) Right now, I wouldn’t ride a donkey around the block, let alone to the next city. But Mary did. And she did it as an unwed teenager. And she did it because it is what was asked of her. How does a person find the strength to do that? (I am not just talking about the donkey ride anymore; I mean, how does a person find the strength to—literally—bring God into the world? Would you do it if it were asked of you? If you are a Christian, are you doing so now, metaphorically? Are you doing all that is asked of you? Are you bringing God into the world? I don’t normally talk about religion on the blog, but I told you the end of this pregnancy has me thinking. I know I am not doing everything I can.)
Finally, I have been filled to overflowing with thoughts of another young family. My brother’s friend, Luke, has a 5-year-old daughter Madeline who is dying from pleural pulmonary blastoma. She’s been sick for a long time and has survived several brain surgeries, but it seems the tumors have grown inoperable. Her doctors are not certain she will make it to the new year. Inspite of what must be an unbearable situation, the family is trying to do something fun every day; today, at Madeline's request, they are baking cookies for all of the children on the hospital ward where Madeline was treated. So now, during this holiday season, as I prepare with my family to welcome a new little life into this world, I also think of Madeline and her family, preparing to let go of a life. How does a person find the strength to do that?
I once read somewhere that all of our prayers can be boiled down to one or two words, and I think this is true. So these are the words that I have been praying over and over this week:
For my own family’s situation, I pray thank you.
For Madeline and her family, simply help them.