It is often said that one of the reasons that losing a child is so painful is that it is a reversal of the natural order of things. Children are meant to outlive their parents, so you expect the death of your parent but not the death of your child. This inversion of the typical life cycle makes it easy to fall into the trap of thinking about the “should have beens” which inevitably triggers feelings of sadness and self-pity.
I found myself lured into this trap yesterday when I was bringing our older daughter to my parents’ house to celebrate Christmas: “This should have been Noemi’s first Christmas. I should be carrying her up the stairs right now.” Thankfully, these thoughts were interrupted by my oldest who, for no apparent reason said, “Mommy, it is better to believe in Jesus.”
It is better to believe in Jesus. Better to believe that He existed. Better to believe that He was born two thousand years ago. Better to believe that He lived, died, and rose again so that we could spend eternity with Him. Better to believe that His plans are good, even when they do not follow the usual pattern for life. Better to believe that there are no “should have beens” because God is working everything out according to His purposes. Better to believe that while I do not get to witness my daughter’s first Christmas, she will be with me for my first Christmas in Heaven and, judging by the angel choirs, magnificent star, and diverse visitors who celebrated Jesus’ first birthday, Christmas in Heaven must be amazing!
So tomorrow at the Christmas Mass, I will join with all the angels and saints and sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest! Hosanna in the highest!” Unless God has plans that I do not know about yet, that is as close as I will get to the Heavenly Christmas celebrations this year, but I will look forward to the year that I spend my first Christmas in Heaven with my baby, all of the heavenly hosts, and the saints who have gone before me. And I will be thankful that, because Jesus was born, Noemi gets to spend her first Christmas in the presence of Christ. Yes, it is truly better to believe.