Dear Baba,

Two years ago today…

I didn’t write much about it because I didn’t know where to start. I had been through a lot already that month and was recovering from major surgery. I was both in shock and not surprised, if such a thing is possible. Most of my childhood memories included Baba as she lived with us since I was 4. I couldn’t write about it then, but feel drawn to write now.

Dear Baba,

Thank you for all the memories shared. For telling me about when you were a kid and how you almost broke the principal’s arm (though I’m still not sure if that’s true or not). For letting me keep you company when you were watching your “stories” and I was playing with my paper dolls. For being honest with me when I tried to make you promise that you would never die after I experienced loss for the first time; “No one lives forever, Kellie.” For looking out for me (like that time you yelled at Teresa and Kimmy for locking me outside in the pouring rain). For being generous and helping me out in college when I felt things were falling apart. For eagerly listening to me read Harry Potter to you and telling me that listening to Jim Dale read the last one couldn’t compare to me. For the money you gave me at least 7 years ago, that was to be for my wedding “or whatever you might need.” I did use it for my wedding, Baba; I found the most lovely dress. Thank you for your contribution to that day. It was more than just the dress.

My 33rd birthday was just 10 days after you left us. On that day I finally decided to set up an online dating account. Don’t worry, I was safe and didn’t let any of them come to my house on the first date and I always drove myself to meet them. I thought it would be a good use of the money I had just received, and I’m happy to say, Baba, that it was indeed. I went out with a couple of what you might call duds. They were nice and all, but not for me. And then I met him, Baba, 6 months after you had gone, I met the man who’s now my husband. Thank you, again.

I regret that you were not at our wedding and that you never got to meet Steve. You would like him, of that I have no doubt. He has a great sense of humor and he would make you laugh. And, yes, Baba, he loves me and treats me well. I’m sad that my children (when we have them, Lord willing) won’t get to grow up with you in their lives. I admit I’m a little jealous that you were at both Teresa’s & Kimmy’s weddings & that you got to meet their firstborns. Don’t worry, though, my husband and my children may not meet you, but they will know your stories. They will taste your peanut butter pie and pierogies. They will gaze upon a Christmas tree with ornaments you made hanging from it. You are not gone as long as your memories are passed along.

Thank you, Baba, for the memories.

Love & Blessings,

KJ

Christmas, in Retrospect

I hope you all have enjoyed a wonder-filled Christmas season! For me, it was the first time I was not traveling at Christmastime since I as living at home with my folks some 13 years ago. I had spent most of my vacation time with family earlier in the year and I was a little relieved that I wouldn’t have to fight the holiday traffic & craziness at the airports. I love my family, don’t get me wrong (you hear that, Ma – I love you!), but have also been blessed immensely with friends here who might as well be family too.

Christmas Eve at work included a surprise visit from Santa (who was supposed to visit the local hospital but there were no kids there; a Christmas blessing, indeed), lunch with friends, and me playing various Christmas CDs on my computer (including the soundtrack to The Muppets’ Christmas Carol). After work I got home in time to pack my overnight bag, gather some goodies for the evening, make a couple last minute gifts (more info on those Friday), throw everything in the car, and head to church for music practice before the service started. After service my friends, Michael & Robin, hosted an open house. This time was full of friends, food, & fun. I spent the night there so I could celebrate Christmas morning with them and their family. It was a nice, quiet, and relaxing day that ended with some more friends coming over to have a lovely Christmas dinner of Chinese take-out. It was a wonderful couple of days; I was able to talk with my family & even video chat with some. There was much to enjoy, but I feel as if I’ve left something out. Let’s rewind (you do know what that means, right?) a bit; back to church on Christmas Eve.

This was also very special to me – being able to be a part of our Christmas Eve service. Always traveling, I had never been able to attend. Words cannot adequately express what it is like to be in a darkened chapel with 60-75 people all holding candles, singing, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” It is beautiful, awesome, and powerful; realizing some 2,000 years ago the Son of God, the One who was with God in the beginning, the One who is God, humbled Himself & put aside His glory, to be born, of a virgin, as a human. He was born, as all babies are, completely vulnerable and dependent upon His earthly parents. The Lord of all creation came to us, a mere baby, because He loved us so and wanted to make things right between us and our Father again, once for all. He did not stay a baby, of course not. All babies grow up into children, and those children into men and women. This baby, this Jesus, grew into a man; a man who worked many miracles, taught many truths, and saved many lives. In fact, He’s still doing that today. This humble babe, born in a manger, grew to a man, knowing one day He would die for many; for as many as would believe in Him and call upon His name. He lived a sinless life, and when the time came, He gave up that life; no one took it from Him; He gave it up freely as a perfect sacrifice, the only sacrifice that could ever reconcile the sinful heart of man with the God who created him. Of course, we know, it doesn’t stop there. Jesus’ death was followed by His resurrection, proof that He has overcome death and the grave. And that, my friends, is what gives us hope. If He is indeed our Lord & Savior, we have the greatest hope; that we will, one day, be reunited with Him. And that, truly, is the best Christmas Gift.

I pray your Christmas was not only merry and bright, but also that you had time to reflect on what it really means and the great Gift we were all given, those many years ago, as a star shone brightly over a baby asleep on the hay.

Love & Blessings,

KJ