It was exciting to take Molly to church today for her first Sunday of Advent. We had her dressed up in a purple flowery outfit making it seem like she picked out her outfit on purpose to blend in with the Advent colors (I wish I could say Cynthia and I did this on purpose...it was in the back of my mind but it really coincidentally happened). She was passed out for the better part of the service and it was hard for me to stop smiling as I looked down at her in my arms. I was trying to be reflective and reserved as I listened to the Pastor's message, but I couldn't hold the smile back. It was so good to have Molly there in church today.
But it struck me earlier this morning how different the Advent season is this year. In fact, Cynthia and I have talked about this quite a bit over the weekend as we've been decorating our house.
We were in a very difficult place last Advent. We didn't have to reflect on what it was like to wait for the good news of Christ's birth, we were smack in the middle of a period of longing and waiting for any sign of hope. Last year Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas and even the New Year were all painful seasons to try to navigate through.
This all came to head on Friday when we started decorating our tree. Suddenly flashbacks of decorating our tree two years, when Cynthia was pregnant with Cara, came rushing back. Back then there was an innocent exuberance about the Advent and Christmas seasons. We had just started attending our new church and we were experiencing these seasons all for the first time with a baby in mind.
"Next year it will be so great to have Cara here at Christmas."
"Can you imagine how big Cara will be at Christmas next year?"
"It will be so fun to experience the holiday seasons with Cara next year."
Next year and next year...
Cynthia and I shared memories and tears as we decorated our tree this year and thought back to two years ago. We looked at some pictures of Cynthia over the holiday season when she was carrying Cara. Both her and Cara were so beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
So we enter this Advent season with more hope than we've had in our hearts since that terrible day when hope was taken away from us and our worlds were completely flipped upside down. But we still enter this season desperately missing Cara. Wishing that she was here. Wishing that all our dreams for "next year" would have come true. We will always carry a grief with us that wishes she was physically here. One day, Cara, we'll see you soon. We can't wait for that day.