My daddy gave me a pair of gloves for Christmas 2000. There was nothing special about them. Just a simple (but warm) pair of black gloves with fleece lining. Two months later, my daddy was diagnosed with lung cancer – aggressive and sinister. By the time the cancer was detected, it was too late. Two months after his diagnosis, he passed away at age 56.
All of a sudden, those Christmas gloves became special. Seriously, I placed so much emphasis on those gloves as the last little connection between me and my daddy. Perhaps, I shouldn’t have placed so much importance on something physical and fleeting, but I did. So, you can just imagine how sick I became when the gloves became separated.
At first, I didn’t believe one was lost. I was convinced that I would find the missing glove. Time passed. No reunion. More time passed. Still no reunion.
Years went by. Yes, I carried the found glove around for years.
I slowly became to accept that perhaps, the gloves would not be together again as soon I would have hoped and I might have to learn how to survive with just the one glove. It’s the same realization that slowly settles into your bones after losing someone you love. Like gloves work better in pairs, the heart works better whole. Yet, you come to learn how to survive half-hearted.
Over the years, the “found” glove (or was it the “missing” one) played tricks with my mind. As I’d go through drawers or boxes of winter things, it would seem as if it played a slight of hand. One time, I would swear that it was the right glove that was found, but I would be holding the left one. Other times, I would find the right glove and spend days looking for the left because I could have sworn that I had “just seen it.” Eventually, I just played the cruel game of hide-and-seek off as my own wishful thinking.
When you are grieving an unfathomable loss, the heart and mind play similar games. A swing of blonde hair catches your eye before you recall that she’s not there. A familiar laugh lands on your ear catching you for a moment as you ponder whether these are the left chambers reuniting with the right or vice versa. Then you realize that you are not even sure which chambers are lost and which still beat within your chest.
Sure, you couldlive with just one glove. The one glove is still useful, but it just isn’t the same. Life is livable but sometimes it feels like – oreos without milk, a kingcake with no baby, or red beans with no rice. Like Batman without Robin, SpongeBob without Patrick, or Lilo without Stitch, life just isn’t the same. The needle pierces the memory adding to the tapestry of your life; yet, it is missing a thread. There is a blank space that runs through every new memory regardless of how glorious that memory is.
Amidst a world that is fraught with milkless oreos and babyless kingcakes, there is only one thing that keeps my chest beating half-heartedly and reminds me each day is still worth living. There will come a day when our hearts beat again. Not half-heartedly but full and nearly bursting in a way in which today – we can only imagine.
“Really,” you ask, “Are we really going to be reunited in heaven with our Lord and our loved ones?” Yes, and it is just as simple and complicated as believing that God sent His only Son to make that day possible.
“But it is so hard to hold onto that belief in this world of tangled threads and plates of beans without rice,” you say. I can’t disagree. It is hard. No way around the fact that it can be hard, but daily I am reminded of God’s infinite love and I cannot escape the draw of eternity.
About a week or so ago, I was unpacking a box of winter things and I saw a black glove. It looked so much like the “missing” glove (or was it the “found” glove). My heart had been tricked by this game so many times and I really didn’t have the energy to play another round. Yet, I carried it to the drawer where I had last seen the “found” glove (or was it the “missing” glove). Fully anticipating another disappointment, imagine my surprise when the “found” glove lay in my right hand and the “missing” glove in my left – both hands literally trembling and my half-heart pounding profusely.
After years of waiting and holding onto what felt like a silly expectation and wishful thinking, my gloves are together again. While it might seem like a trivial reminder, it is a reminder nonetheless that faith in the “lost” years will lead to reunion in eternity.
No more half-hearted happiness over reunited gloves. We can look forward to full-hearted joy over a glorious and eternal reunion with the ones we love. More importantly, there will come a day when we will come face-to-face with our Lord and our God.
And . . . thatis the true gift of Christmas.