Conceding Christmas Part Two: The Response
Conceding Christmas is the story I wrote about our Christmas in 2004, less than two months after Kyle was diagnosed with leukemia. This blog is one of my favorites.
Here is Part Two.
I curl up in a ball. Think about that verse from Matthew 11. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Do I believe it? Can I live it?
Release him. Trust me.
Every moment I don’t let go, fear eats away at me. I live in bondage to the terror that Kyle will die and leave me. I can’t hold out any longer on the tugging of my heart.
“Okay, Lord. Okay. Your ways are not my ways.” Deep inside, where I cling to Kyle, I force myself to relax. I imagine picking him up, kissing him softly on his cheek, and walking over to Jesus. It takes me a moment to offer him up and hand him over. His weight leaves my arms and my heart stutters. Kicks into overdrive.
I almost grab him back.
Outside my mind, in the reality of Kyle’s dark room, I tighten my grip on the pillow that still smells like him. “He’s Yours.” I tense. And wait. For the phone to ring. With news that Kyle’s lost the fight and he won’t be coming home.
No sound comes other than the hum of the ceiling fan above me. I breathe a half-sigh of relief, knowing the call could come tomorrow. Or the day after that. Or any time during this long battle.
Another quiet whisper tugs at my heart. Something remains. Something I need to do. Will you love Me? No matter what? Even if I take him home with me?
My gut burns. My heart speeds up. I want to yell, “Yes, Lord, Yes.”
But I can’t.
I roll to my back. The fan blades spin around the neon light and throw dancing shadows on the wall.
Let it go. The whisper comes again.
“Isn’t it enough that I gave You Kyle?”
Give Me everything.
Kyle’s Awana verse from last week, Proverbs 3:5-6, flashes across my mind. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I’ve already come this far—the burden almost gone—but these words are harder to say. Acid rises in my throat. These words may change everything. I close my eyes. Breathe in and out. Find the strength He gives me. “If You take him, tonight, tomorrow, next year, I will still love You.”
Peace fills me. Everywhere. Not the kind of peace that comes from knowing nothing bad will happen, but the kind of peace that comes from knowing you are shielded even if the very worst does happen. The peace that passes understanding.
Exhausted, I let my eyelids close and drift mercifully off to sleep.
The next morning, Alek and Maddy sit on the bar stools at the island in the kitchen eating pancakes and drinking orange juice. I unload the dishwasher and turn to clean the sticky syrup off the counter.
The phone rings. I hold my breath. It’s my husband—with news I didn’t expect. Kyle will be home for Christmas.
God has handed him back to me. At least for now. The fever gone, the blood counts rising. I slump against the island in relief. “Thank you, Jesus.” Happy tears slide down my face. I grin at the kids and pull them close. “Let’s get ready for Christmas. Who wants to bake cookies?”