I postponed ordering and shipping Christmas presents as long as I could. We always go to Massachusetts to celebrate with Dan's family. Always. But his brother, Bob, was struggling with colon cancer and the chemo treatments, and his sister had just started a new job and was only going to be up there for a couple of days and I just felt like Christmas and where we would be celebrating was one giant question mark. The last thing I wanted to do was to order and ship everything to Massachusetts only to realize that we would need to celebrate in Virginia or North Carolina.
But Bob was adamant that he wanted to spend Christmas in Massachusetts so we made the plan. He would ride up with us and would stay for a week and then would take the train back to Virginia with his uncle so that he could continue his treatments. His lungs were too compromised due to the cancer to be able to fly.
Once we had the plan set, I started ordering gifts, and Christmas was on! We were charging full steam ahead. And I felt like we needed to make this Christmas the best one ever because honestly, I knew this would be Bob's last Christmas with us.
So I started praying. I prayed fervently that the Lord would bless us with the best Christmas ever. I prayed repeatedly for a Christmas full of wonderful memories. I prayed passionately that the Lord would grant us generous amounts of laughter, numerous photo opportunities, and abundant amounts of time spent enjoying each other's company.
I prayed this way out of what I thought was the goodness of my heart. I wanted a beautiful Christmas for my kids knowing that most likely after this one, Christmas as they had known it their whole lives would be different. I wanted special memories of a final Christmas with their beloved uncle that they could cherish for a lifetime.
After he passed away, I was talking with Dan. We were trying to find the goodness of God's plan in all the death and sadness we had experienced this last year. And while talking about Bob's death, I
realized why God didn't answer my prayers for a wonderful Christmas.
In retrospect though, my prayer was a selfish prayer. I was requesting things that would be good for my kids, for my own little family. Instead of granting me my requests, God, as usual, answered in a way even better than I could have asked.
He allowed Bob two whole weeks surrounded by family and friends. People flew in and drove in from various parts of the country to spend time with him as he was dying. Bob's brothers, sister, and uncles got to spend huge amounts of time with him in his final days. And my kids got to say goodbye to their uncle, knowing that it would be the last time talking to him. He definitely knew he was loved.
He also received the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to include Confession and Holy Communion. I know that being able to receive those sacraments in his final days were a huge comfort and blessing to him.
If he had not passed away over Christmas, he most likely would have been alone in his apartment or alone in a hospital room in Virginia. If God had to take Bob, I'm glad he chose to take him when he did so that we could be with him.
We didn't get the Christmas that we wanted, but instead, we got the Christmas that Bob needed.
And ultimately, one that we needed as well.