Those of you who read my blog post Surviving Christmas know that I’ve been dreading Christmas.
The mere mention of the ‘C word’ has been enough to precipitate an emotional reaction.
I’ve been praying for strength – after all, I’m a parent and I’ve my kids to think about.
Well, on Friday 7th November I received a phone call that I believe was an answer to prayer. The phone call was from a member of staff in my local Community Children’s Nursing Team offering Miriam and I a place on the annual day trip to Lapland on Wednesday 17th December organised by the N.I. Children to Lapland Trust
As a Christian I have always preferred Easter to Christmas.
I have never particularly enjoyed the “trappings” associated with Christmas.
However, since receiving this phone call, I have been ridiculously excited at the thought of reindeer rides, husky dog rides, decorating gingerbread biscuits in Mrs Clause’s Bakery, visiting the elves workshop and the ice gallery.
It will be a day to spend with my youngest daughter, making memories.
It will be something nice for us to talk about, both before and after.
Something else to focus on, besides the overwhelming sadness we feel at the incompleteness of our family at this special time.
Most families on this trip will have a child with them who has a serious life limiting medical condition. I will be acutely aware that the only reason that we are experiencing such an amazing treat is because Leah has died, but I’ve learned that joy and pain can coexist in my heart.
Last year on the way back from a day spent with Leah at the Bridgewater Oncology/Haematology Suite at Belfast City Hospital that I had found quite stressful, we stopped at Asda at Junction One. As I was going through the supermarket checkout the shop assistant caught me completely off guard with her cheery “Any word of Christmas?“. I just looked at her and burst into tears. Leah wasn’t with me so I briefly explained my circumstances to the shop assistant and she was very understanding.
Since Friday’s phone-call I no longer dread the moment at the supermarket checkout when the shop assistant cheerily asks “Any word of Christmas?” because now I will have something cheerful to say.
In life I prefer to be a ‘giver’ rather than a ‘receiver’, but I deeply appreciate the work of the many charities, and those who raise money for them, who have supported us as a family throughout this incredibly difficult journey.