Christmas Stories
for the Soul

Keeping the Connection
by Patricia Chase

As a mother grieving the loss of a child, the road
ahead stretches long and difficult. Not having had
the opportunity to complete your child's life to
adulthood breaks a mother's heart over and over
again. You wonder every day what he is doing. Is
he okay? You pray that he is happy.

My first Christmas without my son, Justin, was a
painful struggle. I just couldn't find the strength
to decorate a tree with all the beautiful ornaments
Justin and my daughter, Stephanie, had made over the
years. Instead, I decorated my elderly mother's tree
and my family shared Christmas with her.
It helped us survive the first year.

The next year, I summoned the courage to put up the
Christmas tree with lights, but once again Justin
and Stephanie's precious ornaments remained packed away.
That's as far as I got, but it was a major step.

Justin had loved Christmas, and for the sixteen years
of his life he had always helped put up the tree.
In fact, since Stephanie had been away at college,
he'd taken charge of the decorating. He always
assembled the nativity scene under the Christmas
tree, a job he especially enjoyed. My father had made
the manger out of barnboards from my grandfather's
barn, and I had painted the figures in a ceramics
class, so it had a very special meaning to your family.

By our third Christmas I felt stronger. I needed a
connection to the Christmas times past when Justin
had been alive. This time I put up the tree and
lovingly decorated it with the children ornaments.
Then I went to get the box containing the nativity
manger and ceramic figures, which had not been touched
for three years.

As I looked inside the barnboard manager,
I discovered a tiny little Christmas card.
The front of the card showed a picture of a little
boy carrying lots of Christmas cards to be delivered.
I opened the card and read the inside verse:

If I could just pick up and leave
I'd start this minute, I believe
To be with you on Christmas Eve.

At that moment, I knew I'd make it--not only
through the holidays, but also through the long
journey ahead of me without Justin. I never found
out how the card got into the manger, but I viewed
its presence there as a gift from my son.
In my heart, I knew the tiny card with its message
of wanting to be together for Christmas Eve was my
much-needed connection to Justin. It would see me
through that third Christmas, and ever after.

Song playing is
A Year Ago by Kenny G