Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Most Memorable Christmas

December 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Monthly Articles

A  Most Memorable Christmas

Christmas Eve 2010

The cramped hallmark store bustled with activity. The doorbell chimed a regular rhythm while preoccupied shoppers scurried around. Their voices chattered incomprehensible and cryptic conversations as they searched for those last minute items to make their holiday perfect.

All the commotion became surreal and faded from reality as she focused in on one, single ornament.

She no longer noticed the occasional bump of her arm, or brush of her shoulder. All that was blocked out as she cradled the resin, half-oyster shell ornament in her hand. It was the perfect size and shape to fit her small palm. Her fingers brushed across the imitation pearl that rested near the hinge edge. Then she stroked the gold letters rounding the edge of the shell.

Every life leaves something beautiful behind. 

Taking in a deep, ragged breath she closed her eyes. The familiar crawl of panic in her muscles wanted to escape her body. She had to stay in control. This was not the place to fall apart. She couldn’t do this here—not now with all these strangers, and not in this crowded, tiny store. God would get her through this. He had already done so much for her.

Late Summer 2010

Before she answered the phone that day, she knew what the news would be, all though her prayers were selfishly for a different diagnosis. Her mother had stage four pancreatic cancer. It had already spread to at least her liver. Prognosis: three to six months.

From that moment on, everything in her life became exceptionally precious and exceedingly redundant at the same time.

Living five hours away spared her the daily visual decline of mother, but each monthly visit became an obvious reminder of how time was slipping away. Each time, more matriarchal duties were passed from one generation to the next, as well as her mother’s specific wishes for certain beloved items, or particular family heirloom.

So many decisions so little time.

While packing for the Christmas visit she attempted to add dress clothes to the suitcase, but she just couldn’t bring herself to place them inside. For several months she had known this would be the last Christmas she’d have her mother. God had given her a peace about that, but surely He wouldn’t take her on Christmas. Not during a time of family celebration. No, she wouldn’t take ‘funeral clothes’ this time. They wouldn’t be needed yet.


They celebrated Christmas the weekend before the actual holiday, and what a grand family celebration they enjoyed. It was one of those rare times when everyone was present. Her mother spent the last Christmas with all of her family under one roof.

By Sunday afternoon the festivities concluded and some family was already scheduled to begin their long trek home to Alaska. Her mother’s body could go no farther. That evening her mother was placed in ICU.

Monday morning she spent hovering over her mother—much the way her mother watched and cared for her as a child. One of the last acts she did with her mother was pray. She held her hands—the ones that look so much like her own—and prayed for God take her mother’s pain.

She released her mother to Him.

She knows her mother did the same for herself.

By 7:00 pm—with family surrounding her—her mother went to be with her Lord.

“Ma’am, are you okay?”

She bit her lip to keep it still, and pools of tears blurred the face from her vision. “No, I’m buying this ornament in memory of my mom, and we buried her two days ago. She died of cancer.”

The delicate fragrance of a floral bouquet, mingled with a hint of vanilla, filled her nose as soft, loving arms pull her into an embrace, the kind of embrace only a mother can give, and held her there for several minutes. She rested her head on the sturdy shoulder of a total stranger who was on a divine appointment from God.

“It’s okay. I understand. I’m an ICU nurse.”

When she was released from the woman’s embrace, the nurse disappeared into the crowd of shoppers. She felt her mother had held her one last time.


Bio: Rhonda Clark is a wife, homeschool mom, and reviewer. She and her family make their home in Memphis, Tennessee. She can be contacted at

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