The Christmas Letter…Part Two

December 22, 2015



The Christmas Letter
Part Two

            The New Year rang itself into the world and with it came a great-grandchild’s birth and a long-awaited family wedding.  New business ventures came and went.  A continuation of the cycle of deadlines, obligations, commitments, and life…..

By the spring, Edward became exhausted more frequently as he completed his daily routine.    Frustrated with himself, he exercised more and disciplined his diet; still, his condition and energy deteriorated.  Extremely concerned for her husband, Margaret scheduled a doctor’s visit.  The phone call which would change their lives came on a Monday morning following a week-end with their family.  They had spent the weekend playing games and enjoying the beautiful countryside at their family farm.  Edward had, for the first time that he could remember, been a spectator to the family fun.  The doctor’s voice was grave as the pounding in Edward’s head almost deafened him…but he heard one word…

Shock echoed through him as he processed the word… “Cancer”. He dropped the phone and Margaret quickly picked it up to hear the doctor’s instructions. “Yes, Dr. we will be there; yes, we will be there at ten o’clock…Thank you.”

Every cell in his body seemed to react with stunning disbelief, his mind screaming, his heart pounding out of his chest.  His words were jumbled as he began to scramble calendar dates, appointments, and trips.  Chaos and confusion returned and tumbled down pressing on him.  Margaret gently took his hand trying to quiet the spirited man who sat beside her, her husband of forty-five years.  “Edward, we have to give this to God. We cannot fix this,” she whispered.

They sat for what seemed like hours, in silence.  Thinking that he might want to be alone, she stood and walked from his office and pulled the door closed.  As the sun set, she quietly opened the office door to set his tea on his desk, finding him just as she left him.  She left the room whispering a desperate prayer for her husband, yet feeling an inexplicable peace as she exited.  She smiled with tear-filled eyes… knowing that they were not alone in this battle.

Edward sat at his desk trying to capture the fleeting time.  “I AM NOT finished yet.   My calendar is full, my trips are scheduled, meetings and my family…” Suddenly his temper flared as he swept the contents of his desk top to the floor with a brutal move of his right hand.  He watched as the items crashed and rolled and finally rested and quiet surrounded him once more.  Quiet…except for the ticking of the old clock…

Then as quickly as his burst of anger had come, tears spilled from the crevices of his heart, brimming over from his eyes, tears dripping on his now empty desk.  “God”, he cried, “You have to help me, NOW!”  He leaned over and picked up a piece of paper from the floor and found a pencil in his desk drawer.  He printed the words, “God, help me.” He reached down to the bottom drawer and slowly opened God’s Drawer.  He wondered if God really knew about the drawer.  His father had believed…really believed that God knew.

Before placing the paper inside, Edward noticed the letter that he had placed there months before.  He removed it from the nearly empty drawer and reviewed its contents…He read the three points and his eye found its way to the third one, the one that he had circled. Someone had promised to pray for him to find peace.  Peace…he doubted that peace could possibly accompany him on this journey…not now…not ever.  He dropped the two papers into the drawer and slammed it shut.

The next months were filled with doctor visits, hospitals, conventional medications and alternative protocols, city-to-city, state-to-state, each ending with the same prognosis. After five months, the doctors confirmed the same outcome to a battery of repeated tests; Edward realized that he had already outlived the initial expectation.

Margaret was certain that her husband would schedule another treatment in another place.  The next morning, as they sat alone in the hospital room, Edward took her hand; he took a deep breath and spoke in a weakened but firm voice, looking into her eyes… “It’s time to go home.”

They immediately returned to a homecoming of family and friends, gifts, food, flowers, and tremendous out-pourings of love.  For the next two months, visitors came mornings, and family filled the evening hours.  As he sat listening to each guest, he was overcome by the love and gratitude delivered to him daily.  Each visitor shared a testimony as to what he had meant to their lives.  Some thanked him for business advice, others for help with financial needs.  He became emotional while two married couples thanked him for his and his wife’s intervention when their marriages were crumbling.

These visits were wonderful, but his favorite times were the visits with each member of his family.  He made the opportunity to meet with each child and each grandchild privately. He found himself sharing advice and reliving wonderful memories with each one, each son, each daughter.  His wife read his favorite verses from Revelation each night before he drifted into waves of sleep and intermittent and increasing pain… “And God shall wipe away all tears…”

As Christmas approached once again, he sat alone in his office.  He seldom had the energy to walk there, but today, he had a burst of energy and gladly took the arm of Margaret as she helped him into his favorite chair.  He was grateful that she was the one who would hand him his sorted mail, bring him his tea, and pull the door to as she left the room.  And, she cherished these times of caring for him.

The old clock chimed outside his office…it never grew tired of its job…..counting the seconds…..the minutes of life….of his life…His labored breathing filled the room with its own rhythm…the sound of life.  Edward reflected on time; he recognized that he was still alive, defying the doctors’ predictions.  He chuckled at the irony of life…..How tightly he had tried to hold on to everything… and yet now,  he was learning to let go…A warmth  washed over him as he thought how good it felt to be home.

And now, Christmas had found him once again.  He was beginning to feel the fatigue which ambushed him daily, but he stopped for a moment before beckoning for help from Margaret.  He reached down to the bottom drawer and slid it open to reveal its contents.  On top was his plea to God to help him!  He smiled at the recognition of where he was at this moment. He believed that God was helping him…He felt it.

Next, he reached to pull out the anonymous Christmas Letter he had received a year ago.  He reread the letter; these were prayers for him from an unknown writer.  How could this person have possibly known what he would face this past year?  No, they could not have known, but it was true that he had received more love from family and friends than any man could ever imagine.  And, he had grown closer to God… And, it was Christmas once again, his favorite time of year, after all, wasn’t he “Mr. Christmas?”

The pain caught him as he thought of “peace”.  Where was his peace the writer had prayed for…..he thought of home again.  His thoughts were interrupted when the office door opened as Margaret came to help him to his bed-room to rest.  As he slowly hobbled down the long hallway, leaning on her arm, he studied the family photos hanging on the walls; the photos whispered countless stories.

Christmas Eve crept up quickly.  He found himself in his office that morning with his cup of tea.  He was feeling vital and energetic as he set about his work.  Margaret had warned him that she would only allow him to stay at work for a short time.  She did not want Mr. Christmas to wear himself out before the celebration.  They had both laughed; it felt good to laugh.
It was Christmas Eve!

Part Three tomorrow!