Sunday, November 26, 2017

Things I Almost Remember

I cried watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade when they featured a song from the Broadway musical, Anastasia.  Full disclosure, I cry every year watching the Parade.  I've toyed with the idea of making a career with Macy's in order to obtain a seat in the grand stands.

I've loved the song, "Once Upon a December",  from the first time I saw the movie, Anastasia. 

There's a haunting, magical beauty to this song.  It communicates a truth.  Like Anastasia, we were meant for something far more glorious than this cold, impoverished life.  We are princes and princesses, sons and daughters of the Most High King, unable to remember from where we come and to whom we belong.

Dancing bears, painted wings
Things I almost remember
And a song someone sings
Once upon a December

Someone holds me safe and warm
Horses prance through a silver storm
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory

We now have less time with our children before eighteen than we have spent.  Our time is rushing away, like a snow filled whisper.  Fleeting, fast, signficant.  It has already been four Decembers since Esther's stem cell transplant. We are about to step into the fifth. 

Like Anastasia, many of the specific memories have faded, but my heart remembers.  Decorating the Christmas tree begins this journey into the remembered past.  Our family's tradition of choosing ornaments sparks this once lived reality. 

This year's stones are a soccer ball, a rolling pin, a created sign, a cha-cha dog, and a macaroon.  

Rourke loved this soccer season.

Zinnia is the life of our parties, always looking for fun. 

Lydia loves us with her baking. 

Franne loves to create beautiful things.  

Esther discovered macaroons.  They are delicate,
complicated, and have the perfect crust on the outside
to protect the beauty inside.
That's like her. 
Not hardened, but strong. 


I love unpacking the ornaments.  

We delight in the reflection of each treasure.  We giggle at the memory of two-year-old Zinnia choosing a dog, then covering that dog with kisses, when she was terrified of dogs.   When she was two, Esther tried to put on a pair ceramic ballet flats.  Lydia has a purse she would sneak off the tree and carry around the house when we lived in the little townhouse on Ross Drive.  Frannie has taken to creating her own ornaments the last three years.  She will not be boxed in nor defined by the store's selections.  A perfect reflection.  Rourke has a line of trucks, planes, trains, and ships, a tool box, and a few sports related items.

These stones of remembrance mark a year I've had the pleasure of loving these souls.  However, there are some, specifically the ones from that December four (almost five) Christmases ago that bring what my heart remembers to my eyes.  I have to concentrate to not let those memories trail down my cheeks.   That December is vivid.  I remember wanting each gift we bought our children to communicate our profound love for them.  I remember letting Esther choose more than one ornament.  She initially chose a lacy butterfly, because she had one for her port, but then she choose something else.  We let her get both.  I remember decorating our home.  Putting up our Jesse Tree by Ann Voskamp, and realizing December 18th, the day Zinnia and Esther were born, was the story of Esther.  I remember our early birthday and Christmas celebrations.  Esther was admitted December 11th for her stem cell transplant.  I remember Esther sitting with my dad, both bald from their tandem cancer journeys.  

My heart remembers our hands, trembling, holding this little girl out to the mercy of medicine and the care of the Lord.  My heart remembers the faithful ministry of the Father, holding us safe and warm.  

The months following this December included a lot of hospital time and Disney's Sofia the First.  Esther loved it.  Sofia, and her friends, brought joy.  That year we started buying Sofia characters.  We have quite the collection.  I think I actually loved Sofia more than she did because it was such a comfort to her.  This weekend, the girls cleaned out their room, and decided they are all too grown up for Sofia. As I packed them away, memories made it to my eyes once again. 

Far away, long ago
Glowing dim as an ember
Things my heart used to know
Once upon a December

These embers of memory are ever present, yet not remembered.  I can still find myself overcome with fear.  I can find myself overcome with mercies and graces experienced during this journey.  I can find myself reacting out of hurt.  Little things, very small, insignificant things remind me of feelings (true or not) of being misunderstood or unknown during that time and the following years.  My capacity for empathy is ripe in December; I just ache for those aching.  My heart remembers and can't help but knowing something of the hurts around me.  I have dearly loved friends who have walked a difficult medical journey through more than one December.  My heart hurts for their Decembers, and I have prayed for an entire year for them to enjoy a hospital free December. Other friends lost their daughter, one of five daughters, this year.  Another friend lost her son.  

Someone holds me safe and warm
Horses prance through a silver storm
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory

Far away, long ago
Glowing dim as an ember
Things my heart used to know
Things it yearns to remember

And a song someone sings
Once upon a December


Anastasia's heart knew her life was not intended for a cold, impoverished world.  She yearns to remember, and not just remember, but to know, and be known.  

I am thankful for the things I almost remember.  I am thankful my heart does remember.  I am thankful for the Decembers past and their memories, which are decidedly brought to life year after year through ornaments hung on a tree.  I am thankful that we have a promised future.  One that makes sense, where we are known and where we belong.  


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