Five years is a long time. It’s also a huge milestone in the lifetime of someone with cancer.
It’s a celebration date those who’ve battled cancer look forward to celebrating. But to those who’ve lost someone from cancer, five years can feel like a lifetime.
My dear friend, Melanie’s son, Andrew, lost his fight with cancer five years ago today. Melanie is like any other mother. When she held her son for the first time, she couldn’t imagine living five minutes without him.
And it’s been five years.
And it’s Christmastime.
Every time I read the Christmas story, I think of Melanie. Because I can’t read the Christmas story without thinking of Easter. Without the cross, we would have no reason to celebrate Christmas. And without the resurrection, we would have no Easter. And without Easter there would be no need for Christmas.
And Melanie, like Mary, lived through her son’s suffering and her son’s burial. But, Mary’s Son conquered death through the resurrection. And because one Son conquered death, another son will be reunited with his mother.
And that’s why we celebrate Christmas. Even in our suffering, we celebrate.
This poem I wrote just after Andrew’s death was read at his funeral and remains, my gift to Melanie.
Upon hearing of Andrew’s death I was speechless and numb. As I began to weep, I started to pray.
“Lord, you know I love you. You know I trust you. You know I believe you are good. But, Lord, you know I have to ask ‘Why?’”
“Why now? At Christmastime?”
“I hate that I am preparing to go buy my children Christmas presents and Melanie is preparing to bury her son.”
And quietly, in my questioning, He spoke.
Lisa, why are you buying your children gifts?
“Because I love them, Lord and I want to shower them with affection. I want them to celebrate an outward expression of my love.”
And what will you do with the gifts that you buy?
“I’ll wrap them and place them under the tree for my children on Christmas Day, Lord.”
What will your children do with the gifts?
“Why they’ll take delight in them and enjoy them and use them.”
What will Melanie do with Andrew?
Me, softly, “She’ll place him in a box and present him to you, Lord.”
And I will take great delight in him and enjoy him and use him.
You may not see it yet, but Melanie is blessed among women. She has the opportunity to give me a very precious, rare and costly gift that most can never give. She knows I will use his story.