A Gift Of Joy

There was a knock at the door. I didn't want to see anyone. My heart was broken. If someone—anyone—looked me in the eyes or gave me a hug, I would break down and expose the hurt my heart was trying to beat through. 

The door swung open and two bright faces greeted us with the Christmas tree we couldn't afford. It was the Christmas tree we couldn't buy and I was too devastated to look for. My sister and brother propped up the tree to see what we thought. I looked at my mom. She knew our secret and she began to cry. I began to cry too. My sister and brother thought they brought us to tears by their surprise tree delivery. But I told them there was more.

They followed me up the stairs. I sat on my bed and picked up my swaddled newborn baby. I felt like I was introducing a baby to them that they had never met. But they had known him for two weeks. As I spoke to them softly my heart began to beat faster.

"The pediatrician thinks Elias might have Down syndrome. We had blood work done and we're waiting to find out." I watched my sister as she held Elias. She cried soft tears, but I knew they weren't tears of disappointment. They were tears of protection and fierce love. My brother hugged me. I knew he was proud of his nephew and he wanted to do anything he could to help us. I needed his hug, and I needed to see my sisters tears, because I was feeling guilt. Their confidence helped heal my aching heart. They showed me a confidence that I was struggling to have. Without hesitation, they welcomed Elias into our family.

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Four years ago I held my newborn Elias and gazed at the tree lights through tear-blurred eyes. I felt so frail and week. All I could do was sit and watch the flickering lights and hold my baby close. I remember feeling comforted by family and our dear friends. When I couldn't make a meal, sweet ladies from our church brought us comfort food. When I needed to cry and expose my heart, my friends listened to me. 

And the golden bell that was given to us still hangs on our door. It rings out joy. Even though our circumstances felt unbearable at the time, I am reminded that joy comes in unexpected ways.

The little boy I held in my arms that year is a gift that I needed so badly. A gift of joy. Four years ago was an unforgettable Christmas. One I would never wish away.

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© 2014 Natalie Falls