Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advent Reflections

December 20th

Janice looked at the clock. She was freezing, all the covers pushed off and lying beside her bed. It was only 3AM and she just wanted to curl up and go back to sleep. The recurring dream she just had seemed a distant memory. Maybe she’d remember it more clearly in the morning. The covers were now up around her neck and she tried to drift back to sleep, not anxious to hear the alarm at 6AM.
Janice had spent her entire life here in Illinois, not counting the 4 years away at Iowa State University to obtain her degree. Those 4 years were difficult because she fought being homesick every day. So it made perfect sense to look for a job in her hometown. Her plans unfolded perfectly- she was able to get a job at a local hospital and her career as a nurse began.
That was now 25 years ago and life was very different than what she expected. She met her husband Jonathan, at the hospital. He was an emergency room doctor, she an emergency room nurse back then. Theirs was not love at first sight, but rather a friendship that grew into a deep love and respect for one another. They were married two years later, and last August they would have celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. When they began having children, Janice took off 10 years from her profession to raise their children. Gracie and Noah were now in middle school- how the years had flown by.
All seemed so perfect; she had been content with her roles of wife, mother, and part-time nurse, until a tremendous storm rocked her world almost 2 years ago. She would never forget the day she received the call about Jonathan’s heart attack. It came so suddenly, so unexpected. A week later, in a comatose state and on life support, her husband died. God did answer her prayers about not having to make a decision to remove life support. Unfortunately God’s plan was to take Jonathan home- an eternity away from her and the children.
She, Gracie, and Noah made their way through those initial weeks and months feeling numb and alone. Having her children to share the grief with made it more tolerable and also more heart breaking, as she watched them suffer with the loss of their Daddy. As Gracie and Noah were growing and changing, moving on from the grief like children can, she felt the hole inside her grow. She was afraid of that hole because it appeared deeper and wider than last year. Her counselor told her that grief was like this, appearing worse before getting better. The recurring dream she had frequently this past year made her concerned.
Here it was Christmas- only days before Christmas, her second Christmas without her husband. She prayed one special prayer she hoped God would answer. She desperately wanted to know the source of the melody that played over and over in her dreams. She couldn’t describe the melody. It moved through the dream like a shadow, never clear but making its presence known in her subconscious.
It haunted her. At times she though she almost grasped it, only to lose all sense of it seconds later.
In her journal for December 20th, Janice wrote:

Dear God,
I’m unsure of so many things and feel so empty. Do you care, God?
I do thank you for the many blessings you’ve placed in my life, especially my children.
Lord, a melody lingers within me, possibly placed there by you in a dream. Would you help me to find the source of the melody? Maybe it would help me find peace, something I lost 2 years ago when you took my beloved Jonathan home to be with you.
Grant me strength, oh Lord, and help me to experience joy these last days leading up to Christmas.
Love, Janice

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