I was cleaning Chris’ bureau top, after I moved several items to the bed – I polished the surface and then began to dust and replace the items. There were several pictures, a jewelry-box and then I came to the four “Precious Moments” statuettes. Each six-inch statuette was purchased for the “special moment” it represented. As I held each one, memories flooded my mind, pulled at my heart and overwhelmed my soul – such moments are fostered by and welded to one’s life by love.
The first depicts a young girl holding six-hearts in her outstretched arms – when my first child Emma was born, there were six of us who were present and embraced by her innocence and life-gift: my mother and dad, Chris and I, and Chris’ mom and dad. She was the first of four very precious moments. Emma has never ceased to bring love into the lives of those she touches – the inscription reads “You have touched so many hearts”.
The second depicts a young boy holding a barbell in his right hand and a book in his left – when our second child Tommy was born I was involved with physical exercise and Chris was (and remains) and avid reader. I recall, with clarity – the moment he was placed in my arms – my wish for him was to be healthy, to accomplish his dreams and to be like his mother – gentle, compassionate, forgiving and an example of love. Tommy has succeeded – the inscription reads “Believe the impossible”.
Fourteen months later – the third statuette was bought. The third depicts a young girl, dancing a ballet – her hands poised in the air while standing on her right leg holding the left leg stretched out behind her. When our third child Sarah was born I was in the seminary looking ahead to my Ordination, Chris a very active and vibrant nurse served her patients with deep-care – we hoped that Sarah would embrace faith and hope – and that her love would be as vibrant as her mother’s – she does, it is. Sarah is deeply loved – the inscription reads “Lord, turn my life around”.
Now I reached for the fourth statuette – as I lifted it in my hands I paused, dropped to the end of the bed and cried - for a long time. The fourth depicts a young boy with tears in his eyes holding a broken-heart with both hands. Our fourth child is resting in the arms of eternity, embraced by love and the infinite care of the One. Christi was six-months old when Chris miscarried – no one should lose a child. I remember the nurse bringing him into our recovery room in a small blue-blanket - she laid him down and left the room. Nothing fills the hole left in my heart and soul – the inscription reads “This too shall pass”. Not yet Christi – not yet.
Christmas 2012 draws near and the birth of my second granddaughter rests just months past, the birth of my newest grandson positioned only a few days in front of us. So why now does the memory of Christi haunt me so? Reason rests in this: I never had the opportunity to hold him or kiss his lips, never had the opportunity to watch him grow, to hear him shout out “I love you Daddy” – never embraced him with hope, faith and a future of love. Not yet Christi – not yet.
To those of you who call yourself “men,” yet continue to have children and pass-up every opportunity to hold them and guide them and love them – listen well. It’s my hope that this Christmas you will be visited by the Spirit. I deeply hope that she will haunt you, and torture your memories and make it clear to you that you pass-up the greatest gift Christmas can embody – the “gift of children.”