Tug Of War

It’s December 22nd. There isn’t a flake of snow left on the ground, it’s 38*, and raining outside. In North Dakota. It’s amazing. The snow is on its way, but for now, I’m soaking in the glorious view of my (dead) grass in the yard, and the visible pavement. All too soon, and for all too long, we’ll be covered in a thick blanket of white. The sun will shine, the chill will be stark, and this warmth and wet will long be forgotten.

No snow. But lots of coffee.

It’s also a Monday. Three days before Christmas. My family will be on their way to see us tomorrow. There are presents under the tree, meals waiting to be made, and goodies waiting to be consumed. In fact, my groceries just arrived via delivery. Hang on, I need to get the door.

Have I ever mentioned I love grocery delivery? Back to blogging.

This morning when I woke up, I still sounded ridiculous. I’ve got (another) some kind of sickness that has taken my normal voice hostage, and has me sounding like a pubescent Barry White. I drug myself to the kitchen (because I am not a morning person) and got some milk warming for Little Man. I sat and stared at the lights on the tree, because that’s the only light I can handle first thing in the morning. I like dark and quiet.

After Little Man ate his fill, I snuggled him despite his wriggling, and headed downstairs to get to work. Yes, I get to work in my home, in my pajamas, while simultaneously wrestling Mr. Muscles for some affection, I have a pretty sweet deal.

And that’s where the tug-of-war rests. It’s almost Christmas. There is a sense of holiday cheer in the air I haven’t felt for a while. Anticipation. Excitement. On top of that, there’s joy and gratitude for my job. The people I get to interact with and work for every week. These, then, are tangled with that old familiar ache. Harlynn is missing.

It’s exhausting, while my feelings and emotions battle it out for which will be felt most dominantly. Taking turns, they stand atop my heart and echo their victory cry above the canyons my life has carved through its veins. Every pulse, every beat, adds to the weight of the story it carries. One second, elated. The next, distraught. Though I’m sitting completely still, I feel utterly worn out. It is an internal tug-of-war.

This is Little Man’s first Christmas. I’m excited to keep him from eating the ribbon and wrapping paper, as I know those will interest him more than any gift. I’m excited to see how he interacts with his cousins. His Papa and Gramma. His Auntie and Uncle. I’m excited for them to see how he drags himself from point A to point B, pausing intermittently to prop himself up on all fours and rock.

Last night, as I rocked him to sleep, I prayed a prayer over him (and Little Miss) that would cover all of my shortcomings as their mother. I also prayed that Harlynn would forever be a part of their lives. No matter the hustle and bustle and crazy that fill our days, I don’t ever want her to be an after-thought. It makes me so proud when Little Miss brings up her sister, and strikes me so solemnly at the same time.

The other day when I went to the cemetery, the fog was covering the entire city. It was the most peaceful, perfect, and pristine visit to Harlynn I had experienced to date. The deer and turkeys were in numbers I had never seen before, no doubt feeling protected by the thick blanket of gray. They moved without a sound, sojourning to find apples and corn left out for them by the groundskeepers. While I loathe the fact I have to go to a cemetery to spend time with my middle child, I rejoice I get to have moments no one else does. Another tug-of-war. I hate to love it there.

Now as I wait for Christmas to arrive, and as I’ll be a willing prisoner of my kitchen, gifting my family with food and fun, my heart beats a little harder on the back-and-forth pulls of emotion.

I pray for a gentle Christmas. I pray for many moments of merry. I pray though she won’t unwrap any gifts from the tree, or wrestle with her siblings or cousins, she is still a very present part of our Christmas. Of our lives.

Merry Christmas, Harlynn.

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