This is a tree that started out with the best of intentions. I had been to a design show where I saw the cutest little kitchen tree decorated with cookie, candy, cookie cutter, and other food ornaments. I fell in love with it and immediately envisioned collecting cute ornaments to add to it year by year. Unfortunately, I have not unpacked this tree or its ornaments since the Christmas season of 2007.
On that day in 2007, I was in the middle of decorating this very tree when I got that nightmare phone call that every parent dreads. My then 19 year old son had been in a horrific car accident and had been in airlifted to a trauma center 80 miles away in San Jose. That day turned into two weeks in the ICU and another week at another hospital. It is truly a miracle that he is here today, that he is fully healed, and leading a very happy life.
I was talking with a friend on the phone today and telling her that I was thinking about getting my tree back out and decorating it. I told her though that it held such a bad memory of what I was doing the last time I was decorating it. She is pretty wise and suggested that maybe I should see it more as a symbol of miracles, and a celebration of the wonderful life that my son has now. As I walked through that entire experience, I felt God's presence and comfort.
I know all together too well that life can change in the blink of an eye. It is so important to hold the love that we have with both hands and cherish it with our entire being. The people in our lives are a blessing. It is important to let them know how much we love them. I am fortunate because my friends and I tell each other that we love each other. My kids and I share that we love each other. In my own experience of extreme emergency I was not thinking about the model of car that I drive, how my house was decorated, or what clothes I was wearing. I was thinking about my loved ones and that was all that I was thinking about. In the end that is all that matters.
So my little tree is up and is lighting up my kitchen with small bright lights. It is true that I am remembering the miracles of that time. I am remembering the people who were there to offer comfort and support. I am remembering how meaningful each day was. I am remembering my son finally leaving the hospital. I am remembering that a four month old, undernourished, scraggly, scared Liesl came into my life at that time because she lived next door to my son, and was no longer wanted by her owner. (Liesl has a very special connection to my son.) Most of all, I remember the feeling of God's ever present love and comfort during those dark days. He made His presence known in a series of miracles that I do not often share with others.
God loves us more than we could ever possibly know. He is with us in times of sorrow. He is with the people of Newtown. We continue to lift up prayers for those beautiful little souls who are with Him now, for those who passed trying to protect them, and for those who mourn. We send love and healing thoughts. Our hearts break for you.
We also offer up prayers of thanksgiving that there were so many that were spared. Hearing the stories of heroism and miracles, such as the little boy who ran past the shooter with his friends, or the custodian running down the hall shouting warning of the danger, it reminds us that this could have been even more tragic.
Love one another.