Saturday, December 06, 2008

What's Christmas like in Heaven?

(This is a post I wrote two years ago, and it gets more hits than any other blog I've written. Desperate people around the world google words like "what will Christmas be like for my child in heaven?" and other poignant phrases, trying to get a glimpse of eternity. Please know that if you've stumbled upon my blog in a search for comfort and hope, I am praying for you! I'd love to hear from you, too. Email me:

Christmas is a bittersweet time for me. To be perfectly honest, a mild depression sets in right after Thanksgiving and doesn't let up until the Christmas decorations are safely packed away until next December. I'm not the Grinch . . . I just really miss my son this time of year.
Jonah was born on December 6, 1984. This may sound cheesy, but I couldn't help thinking about Mary and her newborn son as I nursed my baby boy in the glow of the Christmas tree lights that first year. All the Christmas carols about the infant Jesus held new meaning for me as I tenderly cradled my first born child.

Four Christmases later, I sat in the same rocking chair, mourning the loss of my son. Jonah had been killed in a car accident in late August. My body had pretty much healed from the injuries I'd suffered, but my heart was still hopelessly shattered. In my head, I knew that Jonah was with Jesus, perfect and whole and happy. He wasn't autistic anymore. But my heart ached because my arms would never hold him again--not on this planet, anyway.
Greg and I numbly went through the motions of getting a Christmas tree and decorating the house that December. We baked cookies and bought presents. But it all seemed so hollow, so pointless that year. I found it difficult to celebrate the birth of Jesus as I deeply grieved for my first born son.
My manger was empty . . .
I think it was during this dark period of my life when I began to write. Paper and pen became my therapist, a channel for my soul to wrestle with its loss. One night, when the pain had become unbearable, I tried to imagine what Jonah was doing--how he was celebrating Christmas in his new home. This poem emerged as I tried to capture my imagination in words:

What's Christmas like in heaven?
Will you hear the angels sing
Of Jesus birth--how He came to earth
As a helpless infant King?

What's Christmas like in heaven?
Will He let you touch the star?
That shone so bright, with heavenly light
and led wise men from afar?

What's Christmas like in heaven?
Will the wonder ever cease?
To see Him as He really is--
To know, at last, His peace?

As I visualized Jonah, sitting on Jesus' lap and hearing Him tell the Christmas story, I was comforted somehow. I was given a new perspective--the joy of celebrating Christmas in the very presence of Christ--and it gave me a peace that quieted my heart. And got me through that first Christmas without him . . .
Twenty-two Christmases have come and gone since Jonah died, and that thought comforts me still.

To see Him as He really is--and know, at last, His peace . . .


danielle said...

this one definetly made me cry. i love you so much.
happy birthday, jonah.

Anonymous said...

ditto what yellie said.
happy birthday jonah, indeed.

Anonymous said...

And now for something completely different (even though I highly enjoyed this blog)....I would like to thank you for your stats link. It has brought more frivilous entertainment into my life as I can check out my blog "stats" daily!

Pamela Harvey said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Shawn for sharing your heart. Your family will always be near and dear to me. Love you all!

P-Dot said...

Sunday afternoon I got a call from a new friend. She was at Sizzler and wanted me to come and meet her for lunch, then in the evening drive down to the next county to a candle lighting service that Compassionate Friends puts on every year. They are a group that meets and comforts people who have lost a child. She told me that her son Mark's death anniversary was that very day and she was having a hard time and she started to cry.
I knew exactly how she was feeling as one of my sons had died in '97. We had lunch and then went to her house to see her decorations.
At one point she looks over at me and says, "if we're going go we'd better get going"; But I could tell she was reconsidering because it was raining and dark. I told her that if she didn't want to go it was fine with me as it was so awful out. It would be about an hours drive.
So here is what we did. She had a great 8 x 10 picture of her son in a beautiful frame sitting on the hearth of the fireplace and a huge tall candle sitting next to it. Across the room she had a huge candle holder that sits on the floor so she drug that over to the fireplace. At exactly 7:00 (that is when Compassionate Friends lights their candles around the world) we lit our candles and then we talked about the last Christmas we spent with her Mark, and my Bobby. It was nice, warm, comforting and we felt they were honored. They were both grown men when they died, Mark in 1995 and Bobby in 1997.
Thank you for your beautiful post.

marti said...

Hi my name is Marti and I lost my 13 year old son Malcolm in a tragic weight lifting accident on Nov. 13 2008 this is my fist Cristmas without him although we are very sad we have the promised hope that God gives us. I know that one day I will see him again. Thank you for your words of comfort. I will pray for all grieving parents this Christmas. God Bless.

P-Dot said...

Oh Marti, I am so sorry for your loss. Know that we all pray for each other.

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