by Kristina Risinger
Should you shield the valleys from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their canyons.
My heart is racing as we pull up to the house. The constant flash of red lights has me stunned. There is no time to stop. She has been loaded in the back, and they are ready to go.
The ambulance makes its way to the hospital, and as we follow, we embark on the beginning of what will be the worst day of my life.
Upon arrival, she appears alert. I approach, and she gazes into my eyes. Her eyes are open so wide as if to say, “I need you!”
Looking back, I realize I was the one in need.
Unaware, I scoop her up and hold her for a brief final moment. She is then whisked away for intervention. My mind swarms as medical professionals rush about trying desperately to defy the inevitable.
At most, I am assuming there will be an admission, and our lives will be turned upside down for a few months. Although I am aware of statistics, I am still unprepared for what is to come after.
The holidays are difficult for many and for a multitude of reasons. Sadness from loss, loneliness, and anxiety surrounding a host of expected moments are a few reasons people struggle during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year.
I am not exempt from this phenomenon.
In 2016, we were forced to say goodbye to our youngest child just one week before we were to celebrate her first Christmas. We gave up any right to be filled with excitement and joyful anticipation.
No laughter or eager filled squeals would ever be heard.
There would be no family Christmas photographs or other traditions to capture cherished memories.
There would forevermore be longing, dreams suspended in time, and our family incomplete.
As I sit outside the tiny hospital room, noise tapers down, and the medical team begins to disappear one by one. The doctor approaches and gives her condolences.
My brain cannot grasp the enormity of the situation. I inquire of further intervention as she stares at me in disbelief.
Honestly, I cannot remember the doctor’s exact words, but they communicate one central idea.
My daughter is gone.
To this day, I have difficulty speaking out loud these words of truth.
These harsh, cutting, bone-chilling, final words: DEAD… DIED!
Earlier that dreadful morning, the doorbell rang. We had been sent a delivery from hospice… one I had not wanted to accept. As I opened the door, two men stood holding the gift.
They then carried in the most beautiful elaborate dollhouse a girl could swoon over.
There was some immediate significance to this dollhouse that I couldn’t put my finger on at that moment. This significance remains puzzling at times.
Although they leave a great impact on our hearts, some things are difficult to define, and we struggle to find the words. The dollhouse is one of those things for me.
It is something that I cherish, not because it makes me feel like a little girl again, excited to receive a gift, and jump for joy over such a magnificent offering, but because of its significance.
You see, the day this dollhouse was given to my daughter, she left us to meet her Heavenly Father.
The day had promised all the joy that comes with the idea of the most wonderful time of the year. My daughter had received an amazingly beautiful gift. My husband and I were scheduled to attend a work Christmas party- a much needed moment of relaxation and fellowship.
We were looking forward to our first Christmas with our youngest child.
Since my daughter has passed, I have been protective of the dollhouse. For me, it is more than just a tangible gift.
This intricately crafted home was made with love and gifted as its healing piece for the man who created it.
This man began making these dollhouses after his daughter passed away and has engineered each one with the love he carries in his heart for her…because she asked.
It has now been three years since my baby girl left. I will never get over missing her.
I suppose there will always be a part of me that longs to hold her once again, to feel her soft cheek against mine, to embrace her with a swelling love that found me and is reserved solely for her.
For three years, I have wondered about the man who created such an elaborate vision. Several times I have inquired about his name and thought of reaching out to utter the words, “Thank you!”
As time went on, I am not quite sure why I didn’t pursue these thoughts. Perhaps it was not time.
As time and moments begin to align, it so happens that I was recently granted the opportunity to speak with the man who made an unassuming significance in my life.
We spoke of his gift and gave one another the chance to talk about our children. Each year he gifts these dollhouses to families at hospice and honors his daughter by merely being of service to others.
Again, there is this unexplainable place of significance in my heart that I reserve for the dollhouse and the man who has poured his heart and soul into creating for others in honor of the girl who holds significance in his own heart.
My heart is full as finally, I was given the opportunity to say, “Thank you!”
We have no control over our loss; however, we do have control over our reactions, choices, and how we honor the person that we still carry in our hearts. By being of service to others, we not only help them heal, but we continue in our healing.
Service allows us to reach out and say, “I’m a member of the same club- the one I never asked to join, and I stand beside you honoring your loss. I may not know exactly what you have been through, but I can share the love in my heart and relate to the feelings of pain. I can empathize because I have been there. I may not know you personally, but I know the depth of your pain. I recognize the agony, the fear, doubt, the confusion, and I want to be there to help you as I honor the one I too love and miss.”
You may be at a place in your grief where you cannot imagine reaching out to others. The mere idea ignites rage or bottomless, punctuated sorrow. I can tell you it is more than possible for you to live your life again.
Living does not equate to betrayal or dishonor. You will always remember.
You will always honor.
You will always carry your loved one in your heart.
We have choices in life. When we chose to lend our service to others in need, our hearts are strengthened.
It is not that we have a certain amount of love, and when given, there is nothing left.
On the contrary, when we offer and serve others with the purpose of helping to mend their hearts, love is returned, and a miraculous thing begins to happen. We, too, continue to heal.
Although I will not get over losing a child, I can honor her by lending my service to others. I can be like the man with the dollhouses and honor my child by giving in their dark times of need.
My dear sweet friend, so can you!
If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.