(Photo taken last year of you & Micah under the tree)
Daddy and I falsely assumed the weekend of Christmas wouldn't be too hard this year... we thought it would be much easier than last year. Last year you were in the hospital, recovering from an emergency abdominal surgery that took place on Christmas Eve. We spent the evening with you there, and came to you as early as we could Christmas morning. Big brother didn't want to be separated from you either - we were so eager to see you. On Christmas Eve, I had your nurse play a CD for you continuously throughout the night, and all day Christmas day. It was Casting Crowns Christmas CD entitled "Peace on Earth". I couldn't have found a more peaceful, soothing music with such a powerful message. The music was nontraditional, but perfect for you, my girl. The nurse even liked it! This year at Christmas I could not get myself to listen to that CD. It just made me sad... maybe next year.
(When I came to visit you this day - the day after Christmas, less than two days after your major abdominal surgery - you opened your eyes as soon as you heard me come in - you stared at me for awhile, listening to everything I said - that was probably the last time I had seen those beautiful eyes of yours as you began to slowly swell up so much after that day, that your eyes closed tightly - such a precious time)Last year at Christmas we still had realistic hopes and dreams of bringing you home with us. You looked so beautiful, and fought so hard to recover from each hurdle. There were talks of "homecoming parties" in the planning for when you were discharged. But instead, you had the ultimate homecoming, 3 weeks after Christmas.
This year during the holidays, the tears didn't come until Christmas Eve. We were preparing for our celebrations, hanging our stockings, when I came across yours. As I was hanging yours, I had a full meltdown. The tears just came....and came....and just couldn't stop. It was a strange feeling to prepare for Christmas while missing one of our children here. The tears came often that day, and often throughout Christmas day as well. We had many moments of happiness, and joy, but I would not be honest if I didn't admit that we felt the void, the stinging pain of one of our own missing from our family. Thankfully, the extremely painful days are few and far in between. It hits us hard on holidays, your birthday, and all of the "firsts" that this first year after you went to be with Jesus. Hannah, amidst our happiness, joy, and even the tears...you are never far from our thoughts. All of your relatives remembered you on Christmas as well. Micah had a very exciting Christmas - you would've loved to see his beaming face. It was precious. After all of the festivities, on our way up to NJ to celebrate with more relatives, Grandma Rodgers, Auntie Zetta, Micah, Daddy and I visited the cemetery ("Hannah's Place"- as big brother calls it). All on his own, Micah went up to your picture on the headstone and rubbed it saying "Oh sweet Hanny"... just as he did when you were still with us, and he would visit you in the hospital. That made my heart so happy! He truly brings such joy to our lives, just as you did... God has truly blessed Daddy and I with amazing children.