We are making the annual trek across the border, back home to Grandma’s house for Christmas.  But Grandma’s house sold last week so now we have a new destination and a new house to get used to. I say us, but I really mean us without you. You’ve never seen this new house, will that be a good thing or a bad thing?

The last time you were here there was nothing on this land but wilderness. You chased a deer through the forest after it ran when you tried to pet it.

You swung a log onto the lake trying to break the ice.

I had high hopes for you then. Watching you interact with the cousins and wondering, is God healing him now? Is this the beginning of the rest of his happy life? I had plans for the way I thought it was going to go, much like the disciples had plans for the way they thought it was going to go when Jesus said, “Follow me.”

How could I have known God’s answer to that was, “No.”? You weren’t showing inklings of getting better and better; quite the contrary, you’d die in less than two months, never able to withstand the heavy weight that stole your soul spirit on this earth.

We are back to this place of deer, logs, lake and forest. But now in the center of it all rises a home. “Grandma’s house” is in a new location. It’s big enough for all the grandchildren to come.  Sadly, none of them will be yours.

I wish you could’ve seen it and not just the land it was built on. No memories of you haunt these halls. But no memories of you are brought into them either. It’s as if you never existed at all.

I will bring you. I will bring you here. The loss of you is at home in my heart. Where I go, you go. I will speak your name and remember how you chased the deer, and tried to crack the lake ice into a million pieces like our shattered lives.

It will be Christmas for them, but only one day closer for me. I’ll celebrate the Savior’s birth but never like before. The loss of you has cleft me open. God Himself has been poured into my soul so that nothing else matters in comparison. I don’t care about presents or trees or decorations. I care about the One who saved you.

You are with Him. And I want to be with you both. Since I can’t, I’ll celebrate His birth quietly in my heart amidst the whirlwind of “Merry Christmas!!!”  I’ll try not to detract from the festivity so they can have the Christmas we used to make for you.

Dear God, thank you that Tristan lived long enough to see the land they built this new house on. A little bit of him is here, at least. Thank you for all the years we got to choose his favorite presents and watch him open them with glee. Some day, in the New Heaven and the New Earth we will get to make new discoveries and have new adventures that will make every day seem like a Christmas morning —  Your gift to us because You love us. Help me to make it through the next week thinking of that love. That means more than any loss or gain, You LOVE us. In Jesus’ name, amen.