As recounted in my post JP, Christmas 2002 had been very tough. The fallout from my elder brother’s death had not been nice. Grief is always very difficult to deal with, no matter how well prepared you think you are for it.
Christmas 2003 was a bit of a different story. Daughter number 2, our Zoe, was born in February and had been an absolute delight to us. As we approached Christmas that year, it was with excitement, tinged with sadness. JP would not be around. Mum and dad had separated in the aftermath of JP’s death and things were not the best back in Glasgow.
Mum wanted to be anywhere other than Glasgow that Christmas, so she came to Dublin. It wasn’t the first time she had visited, the then very recent trend in cheap Ryanair flights had made it possible for mum and dad, and various other members of the family to visit. But this was different. This was for different reasons. My mum was coming over to escape. She needed a rest,
Alisha, now five years old, was excited. Tracy was excited as granny Heather was always a great help and good company around the house. I was excited as my mum was going to be with us at Christmas.
Tracy and my mum got on very well. Mum helped, an awful lot. She was brilliant with kids and was just great to have around. Mum was always very content with a pile of ironing in front of her. Our house always made sure she had a great supply.
Approaches to Christmas decorations, however, were worlds apart. Tracy was minimalist, with the tree and a few other pieces. Mum wanted an explosion of colour and things to catch the kids attention. That Christmas, mum was very respectful of her differing view to Tracy’s – until one day, whilst Tracy was out – mum said “nah ye need to have decorations!”
I gulped and thought, “I’m staying out of this” coward that I am.
So off mum went into Dublin City centre (a whole ten minute walk from our apartment), and brought back loads of ceiling decorations etc.
They were home and hung everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Not a space on our ceilings or walls had a bare patch. Tinsel, tinsel everywhere. It made my mum smile. She had claimed her own little piece of heaven that day. Alisha loved it. The 10 month old Zoe stared at all the colours twinkling about everywhere.
Soon Tracy came home. Mum had started cooking the dinner and I stood just insde the sitting room to observe Tracy’s face as she entered.
Tracy smiled. It was not how we did it, it was not normal for my mum to do things that way, but Tracy immediatley got that this Christmas’ of all my mum needed this. It was her normal. It was her escape. After all the years of needing respite from my brokenness and troublesome nature, the one time my mum needed respite more than ever, as she grieved for her eldest, as she grieved for her marriage and her whole life being turned upside down in the space of a couple of weeks the year before – she found her repsite in the place that God had prepared, just for her.
The fact that Jesus had stepped into my life only a few short years before, that he had blessed me with a beatiful wife, amazing kids and a home beyond our wildest dreams (I intend writing another post on how God has always provided our homes), maybe it was so my mum could have her piece n jam there.
Finally she found a little respite right in the centre of where, for so many years, had been the cause of the storm.
Is it any wonder that on the cross, as Jesus is dying, he looks at His friend and disciple John and His mother and says “women behold your son”, and to John “behold your mother“. Jesus loves mothers. He feels their pain. He understands their anguish, their torment, their agonising over their children. When we put Jesus at the centre of our grief, He will give us rest, as He gave to my mother. As He gave to His own. A way forward.
A “Rest and be thankful” before the journey continues.
This blog is part of a wider collection to show the journey that would eventually lead me to the cross of Jesus Christ, my personal redemption, and my journey of faith afterwards. If you would like to know more of my story, please click on my “About” page and take it from there.
Alternatively, you can visit the Media Links page and see a short visit done by BBC Radio Scotland for an interview I did there.
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