Conceding Christmas Part One: The Call
By Lori Freeland -
I burrow deeper under the covers, the bed large and lonely. Thirteen days until Christmas, but I’m not planning a celebration.
Arranging a funeral seems more likely.
My husband stayed at the hospital tonight with our ten-year-old son. This time, Kyle struggles with fever, low blood counts, and multiple infections—staph in his central line and fungus in his left lung.
The neighbor’s Christmas lights shine through my curtains, pulsing red and green. An ache sets in around my temples. I’ve been lying here for hours, watching the numbers on the clock glow and change, trying to ignore God tugging at my heart.
Give Kyle to me.
My chest squeezes in response to the words. “Lord, let me sleep.”
Your burden is too heavy. Take mine instead.
“Why are You doing this to me? I’m not ready.” I fight against the call, bury my face under the pillow. But He won’t let me rest.
With a heavy groan, I kick off the comforter and leave the warmth of my flannel sheets. The cat sleeping on my legs follows me down the short hallway. I peek inside Maddy’s room. A tiny glow shines from a Tinker Bell nightlight on her wall—it quenches her fear of the “black.” Sprawled sideways across the bed, her feet hang off the edge. Blond hair falls over her pillow, covering one side of her face. I settle her back and kiss her cheek. She smells like grape jelly and apple juice.
Soft snores drift down the hall from Alek’s room. He sleeps on the top bunk and I can’t reach his cheek, so ruffling his hair will have to do.
Kyle’s room is next, right at the top of the stairs. I always worry that he’ll fall down them on his way to find me in the middle of the night. For years, a gate stretched between the banisters, keeping him safe. If only a gate would keep him safe now.
I flip on his light and the fan begins to spin. A blue neon light underneath the blades throws off an eerie glow. I maneuver around a Lego battle scene, a stack of books, and a pile of video games. I reach his bed and sink onto his Spiderman comforter. Many nights, over the last four excruciating months, we’ve snuggled here together. Clinging to each other.
Fighting the leukemia.
I want to call the hospital. Hear his voice. But it’s the middle of the night. Instead, I roll over and trail my fingers along the rough bumps on the wall, until they hit a collage of pictures hanging over his bed—pictures of our family and his friends in the days before cancer.
Most of his buddies have stopped coming around. I know little boys can’t comprehend the gravity of cancer, but my heart aches anyway. Kyle doesn’t understand why they aren’t the same friends they used to be.
I breathe deep into his pillow. Comforted by Kyle’s smell, I curl into a ball.
Give him to me.
“Lord, where’s Kyle’s healing? His miracle? Haven’t I begged enough? It’s the only Christmas present I want.”
Let him go.Take my yoke and you will find rest. My yoke is easy and my burden light.
I recognize the words from Matthew 11 as He writes them on my heart. But I can’t give Kyle away. Tears drip down my face, onto my neck, into the pillow. A shallow puddle forms where I rest my cheek. “What if You heal him in Heaven instead of here?”
Trust Me with Kyle.
“But if he—” Tears soak my face. I can’t even think the word, “—how will I go on with a gaping hole in my heart?”
My breath catches. Knots form in my stomach and I agonize over the verse God has laid on my heart.
Can I really let him go?