It’s been years since I’ve been able to sing Silent Night all the way through without choking up and starting to cry. My sister who passed away absolutely loved Christmas. She would start sending us emails in about May with a countdown to Christmas. So at Christmas, she is heavy on my mind and in my heart. And Silent Night does me in.
Add to this whole deal, the emotions surrounding Big Man’s NICU homecoming anniversary on Christmas Day. I distinctly remember Christmas Eve service the night before we brought him home. Silent Night had an entire new meaning. That was probably the first time I cried during Silent Night.
I knew it was coming Tuesday night. We were having a rough time with the service anyways. Little Man was fighting through it. But we were losing the battle. He had his headphones on, but an ear infection (swimmer’s ear) was causing pain. He was anxious to be home and go to bed so Santa could come. He was counting down the minutes until the service would be over, looking at the clock at the back of the church every 30 seconds or so. He was doing his deep breathing – which seems more like he’s hyperventilating – to try to calm himself. At one point, he said to me, “I’m trying really hard to keep myself contained.” It broke my heart. This boy fights so hard through normal, every day things. Then it was time to light the candles and sing “Silent Night.” The music started, the lights went down, the candles were lit, and the singing began. I felt my throat tighten almost immediately, but I was hanging in there, until I heard his small voice beside me begin to sing. And he sang. He sang the entire song. I mouthed the words around the boulder lodged in my throat, and furtively wiped tears from my eyes. He fought past his anxiety, past his ear pain, past his breathing routine and he sang. I just stood there crying.
He fell apart as soon as the song was over. He literally melted. The wheels came completely off. He was crying and freaking out. I blew out our candles, got him in front of me and walked him out of the sanctuary past concerned looks as quickly as possible, repeating over and over, “You’re okay, it’s over; you’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay, we’re done.” Sometimes, this just sucks. He was a hot mess, crying and trying to breath. How could such an amazing moment turn on a dime so quickly?
I pulled myself together. I try not to let him see my reaction when he’s having a moment. He doesn’t need that added stress. This truly isn’t about me. And I’ve never fallen apart in front of my other two, much less our friends at church, nor my mother-in-law, over Little Man’s diagnosis. I promised him as we walked to the car he could take some quiet time upstairs when we got home. I promised him he wouldn’t have to eat the enchiladas I’d made. I told him he could eat the pizza rolls I know he would prefer. I wanted to just stop and hold him and make it all go away, for more than the three minutes it took to sing Silent Night. But we were both done in.