The commotion was loud from the adjacent room. I was busy trying to get ahead of the game with some of my baking and cooking for the weekend. With my youngest down for nap, I assumed a five-year-old could entertain himself for a little while. He's certainly done it before.
My initial reaction to the sound of smashing and breaking was to yell; I won't lie. My heart got the better of me though, thankfully. As I began to survey the damage, I knew I couldn't be trusted to hold it in, I asked for a brief synopsis of what had happened and then Jack to go to his room until mommy to cool down and clean things up. He'd been playing with a tiny slinky and a happy meal toy. Then his imagination asked the two objects to swing from the stockings hung from the mantle.
I saw my two Christmas plates that had been sitting in a stand on the mantle now in dozens of pieces. The stocking holders, plate stand and garland had all been carefully intertwined weeks earlier at the start of the Christmas season. So tightly woven, they all came tumbling down together.
The plates were not repairable They weren't special heirlooms. They weren't even a gift. They were merely something I'd picked out last year to add to the mantle decor. Still I was sad to see them broken. As I picked up the pieces scattered across the hearth, the floor and from beneath the nearby Christmas tree, my mind couldn't help but think of the two dozen mothers who'd have given anything to be in my very moment. Mindlessly sweeping up a small, meaningless casualty their five-year-old had caused. Picking up pieces of china between presents that will be opened excitedly on Christmas morning.
It's been an emotional week for a lot of people, but especially parents of young children. My heart has ached many times for the families forever altered by recent events, but I have ultimately numbed myself to the real pain. I convinced myself it was easier that way.
A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by to see my aging grandfather at an acute care center where he was supposed to be recovering from recent hip replacement. At 92, any surgery is risky and the rehabilitation required to successfully come back from hip replacement is a tall order for him. He knew the risks and the immense rehab that would need to take place, and he was adamant anyway. Unfortunately, his body can't seem to get in good enough working order to even attempt the rehab. He was pretty pitiful when I saw him. He just wanted to go home. Unfortunately, he was in no condition to begin rehabbing at home. Still, that was his most persistent request. I left in tears. I prayed to God to allow him to come home.
Nine days later, after a return trip and layover in the hospital, he's home. I wanted to thank God and praise him for granting this simple request. But, he came home under hospice care. He's nearing the end, and instead I'm turning to God again. I'm asking for peace and comfort only He can bring.
I know many, many families that would gladly take 92 years with their loved ones. Especially those dozens that only received six with their sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters. So, I won't complain about the incredible life God has allowed my grandfather to live. He's been an exemplary patriarch and a faithful servant of God. I'm thankful for the many years we've had together. Still, I pray God will bring him an extra dose of grace in these final days.
As I finish up this post, God has sent the most beautiful sky. After a cold and rainy day, the sky is a mass of fiery red clouds and bright blue sky, giving way to billowy pink clouds and the fading sun. He is still in control. He has not deserted His people. He still gives us the most magnificent displays of His affection, whether through a bright, sun-streaked, cloudy sky or the reminder of His most perfect gift those thousands of years ago when a baby boy was born to save me!