Functional, Broken, Hopeful

I’m feeling it more this year, the wistfulness and the yearning. It sits just beneath the surface of things, the glittery ornaments and buttery desserts and the nostalgia. My uncomplicated self wants to stay buoyant and breathe the easy air of good tidings and cheer.  No brokenness please, just joy and wonder.

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Christmas 2013, photo by Jennifer Rialtos. 

It’s the fourth Christmas without her, and I’m more functional. I can go down the toy aisle, participate in white elephant exchanges and wear an ugly sweater (mine has a unicorn, of course.)  It’s supposed to get easier. That’s the normal progression of things, right?

Right. But can we really talk about “right” and “normal” when the amount of time you’ve had your Christmas tree (six years and change) already exceeds the amount of time you got with your daughter (five years and 293 days)?  The disparity will keep growing, but she will not. We can add new ornaments, but can’t create any new memories, not as a family of four. It’s not right, it’s not normal, and I will never like it.

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The difference this year is that I can see, more and more, that it’s not just me. In this season of warmth and celebration, I see fractured families, lost dreams, failing bodies, fear, despair, loneliness. Brokenness is multi-faceted and ubiquitous, a part of being human.

This nativity scene, different from any other I’ve seen, captures it best.

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The Nativity, Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1887. Public Domain. Burne-Jones was an English artist whose second child died in infancy. 

Mary is embracing her baby. Joseph is by their side and three angels bow their heads reverently. It depicts a birth, but it could just as easily be a death.

Life and death, joy and pain. It’s a fine line that, when things are set right, will become a chasm. This is the hope of Christmas.



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First Christmas


7 thoughts on “Functional, Broken, Hopeful

  1. Haven’t seen an update come through my email in a long time (could be Gmail’s filters…they aren’t wonderful). Anyway, thinking of you and your family this Christmas Season – praying that somewhere in all the pain – you can find some peace.


  2. I have found that once broken, it can never be the same, but it can still be good. I still hope for good and believe for good. You are brave, God Bless you and your family. Merry Christmas Julianna, we will always remember you.


  3. It’s not until we are reminded of what a beautiful little person Julianna was in that photo that I fully understand your never ending pain of losing your sweet little angel. She really was the most adorable and sweetest little girl. How can you ever get over losing her, other than you may of lost her physically but she will always live on in your heart. She is safe and at peace there. Big hugs 🤗 much love 💕 xxxx


  4. Beautiful Christmas post….Julianna was very special to all of us who followed her Life….she will always be an inspiration to me ….loved her 1st Christmas photo💞


  5. Julianna said, “Love is a Superpower, it makes bad guys good”! Allow me to paraphrase, ‘Love is a Superpower, it heals pain’. May the overflowing love you have for your daughter, your family, your friends and everyone whose lives was changed just from knowing your more than amazing daughter, help heal your pain, every single day.

    Nairobi, Kenya


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