The Ornament

My Mom gave me this ornament back in High School.  It was a porcelain(ish) white Angel, holding a basketful of stars.  Shortly after she gave it to me and we put it on the tree, I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Ring of Endless Light in which the protagonist, Vicki, grapples with light and darkness and life and death.  I was going through my first real dose of the same struggle, and both the book and the ornament became a tangible symbol for me signifying that like Vicki, I was charged to choose light, and to bear light.  Since we’ve been married that ornament has gone at the top of our tree as a reminder to me.  After Mom died it took on even greater significance. 

This December has been a dark one.  December 2 I started bleeding and I soon discovered I was having a miscarriage.  The baby was planned for and wanted and hoped for.  I took 9 pregnancy tests (the last 4 of them had lines, the first two faint, the last two more solid).  The miscarriage happened very early before anyone but us even knew I was pregnant.  It was, unquestionably a blow.  Since then my heart has felt hollow.  The Christmas Season which I love even at the darkest times has seemed only a cruel reminder of what I had hoped for and prayed for and wanted.  I’ve always loved Advent because it meant the whole church was pregnant in anticipation of the Christ Child.  Obviously that metaphor is a painful one this year. 

I have held tenaciously to my conviction that Christmas is about a light in the darkness.  I’ve spent time each day covering myself with that thought.  I reread A Ring of Endless Light.  I accepted the charge anew.  I looked at the ornament each time I passed the tree and remembered what it meant even as I struggled against the darkness and the sadness. 

So when an exuberant game of tag tipped over the Christmas tree, and I heard the shattering of glass, and we righted the tree and I saw the white fragments of angel all over my floor, I was a devastated all over again.  It wasn’t just that the ornament was special.  It wasn’t just that my Mom gave it to me.  It was that this symbol of light in the darkness was shattered at a time when I was fighting with everything in me to hold onto that light. 

And then I saw the gift in what happened:  My husband swept up the fragments, and knelt down and painstakingly sifted through the glass to find the pieces of the angel.  He’s swept it into a bag.  Tonight he plans to pick up some Super Glue and try to piece it back together. 

This is the new picture I have to cling to.  In his loving actions my husband showed me Christ.  I am shattered.  The light seems shattered.  The joy and the hope of the season are like shards of glass on my dining room floor.  But Christ is kneeling down, sifting through the sharp, tiny pieces, and putting me back together.  Broken China is stronger when it’s mended.  Light seeps through cracks.  There is light in this darkness.  And I’ve been given the grace to see it. 

This is my Christmas.

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9 thoughts on “The Ornament

  1. Oh my. What a haunting yet uplifting story. I’m so sorry for your loss (in more ways than one). But I’m so happy you have your hubby there during this time. Especially since we know as MilSpouses that they aren’t always there during our darkest hours. That’s a blessing, too… that he was there.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss Val. I’ve lost babies at 6 weeks and 8 weeks. I wish I had some comforting words of wisdom but I know there aren’t any that will make anything better. I’ve been lighting prayer candles daily for many people. Know that one will be lit for you tomorrow.

  3. I didn’t read your blog last night before I answered your email. “The Ornament” is a beautiful way of taking the wind out of the sails of sadness. How lucky you are—or perhaps you’ve taught him well–to have a husband who realized the importance of putting it back together again!

    The former English teacher in me says “this young woman sure can write!” Writing can be so therapeutic! But very few of us can write so beautifully in the midst of sadness.

    I’m reminded of Grandma, who had at least three, perhaps four, miscarriages. She talked with me often about how hard it was, and how alone she felt. Grandpa’s response was “It’s OK. Let’s try again!” Yet she was still experiencing the loss.

    I read that Robert Frost wrote just three words that described a central fact of his life. Senior moment: the three words are escaping me. The words were something as simple as “Life goes on” but those aren’t he words. Can’t find the article now. The message in the article was that no feeling remains the same…there may be some patterns and some sense of familiarity, but we just keep getting new bullets to dodge of catch and transform. I think you have in this entry to you journal tranformed your experience into something very meaningful. God Bless!

  4. Val, I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that you are being lifted up in prayer right now. I am so glad to know that you are relying on Christ right now & that you (along with your sweet husband) are picking up the pieces.

  5. Val, I am so very sorry. I miscarried the end of November, and I am also struggling with the Advent season and have also been trying to hold on to the light that shines in the darkness, which the darkness has not overcome. I really appreciate your post. Thank you for sharing a bit of your view of the light.

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