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After Johnny died and I found myself so alone with no one to talk to I started writing a journal. I kept it up day after day for a while. Later I started just writing in it when I had some profound thought or something that just hurt so much that I needed to get it out.

Johnny was always telling me that I have a way with words and need to write. He said our story was so special because of our seperation and the things that brought us together again that I should right our story. He said we were one in a million!

I have been working on our story and hope someday to have it completed. It will not be the story that he wanted tho that will be a part of it. I am using some of those journal pages in our story. They tell so much of what I have gone through and probably a lot of what the rest of you have. I turn to those pages often in my writing and I add something every now and then. Today I wrote something about Christmas and I thought I might share it with all of you. I hope you can relate and in some way it may give all of you something to at least think about. God Bless and let me know what you think of my thoughts. Lillian

December 4,2003

Christmas! What thoughts that word brings to me. I get in my car and they are playing Christmas music and I turn the radio off. For some reason I just can't stand to hear those songs. I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of joy in my heart right now but there are other reasons. Last year Christmas was so soon after Johhny died. The pain was so intense and I was so alone.

I had planned on making it a very special Christmas for both of us. We had never been together for Christmas and he had never really had a Christmas like he had hoped for. I wanted to give him a good traditional dinner and gifts and above all love and hope. I wanted us to share in the joy of Christ's birth and the joy of just being together on such a special day. I had hoped to get his sons and their families together. I bought ornaments and decorations for the house. I had a dinner planned and could see us waking up on Christmas morning knowing that tho there were gifts under the tree we had already recieved the greatest gift of all. Eachother!

When Christmas did come I was lost. I didn't know what to do with myself or the need to still give that special day to Johnny and myself. I watched Johnny Ray(Johnny's son) struggle with moving and trying to cope with Johnny's death and the birth of his new son. They had no time or energy to spend on Christmas or Christmas dinner. My answer was to cook the meal I had planned for Johnny and take it to them. It would be my gift not only to all of them but especially to my Johnny. I did that and felt good about it. It was still a cold and empty day for me in so many ways but the spirit of giving took over. Once again I knew what the real meaning of Christmas is.

Over the years I watched and became more disappointed with each Christmas season. I had more to give in gifts for my family but I felt that so much had been lost. What had once been a time of giving of ourselves had become a time of stress and money. Everything became so commercial. Decorations and Christmas music started far too soon simply because the stores wanted more time to make money from it. The time when everyone would say "Have a merry Christmas" was replaced with people getting angry and frustrated over the price or the crowds. You were and are more likely to hear an argument in a store than to hear those special words that should bring joy to someones heart. The price of a gift has become more important than the love behind giving it. People buy gifts now out of a sense of obligation, not because they want to give a part of themselves. As the years passed I saw myself becoming more wraped up in the new meaning of Christmas. It was too hard to keep it from happening so I just went along with the rest of the world.

I am not looking forward to Christmas this year. I know how difficult it will be with Johnny gone and my family so far away. Still I hope that I can once again find the real meaning of Christmas. I want to remember that Christmas is the real day of Thanksgiving. It is the day that we should lift our hearts and thank God for all that he has given us. It is the day that we should realize that Christ came here to give us all a way to get to heaven and closer to God when he died for our sins. It is a time when I want to say "thank you " for the many gifts that I have been given. Not the ones with price tags that read in dollars but the ones with price tags that read in love and yes even pain. I know that I will have a part of me that will live with this deep sorrow that fills so much of my being but I am hoping I will find a sense of peace with myself and my life. I am hoping that I will be able to see the joy of the most precious gifts that I have been given. My family, my love for them and theirs for me and the precious few months that I had with Johnny. The joy of knowing that he loved me and accepted me for who I am. I know too that my God does the same. I know that he sees my mistakes and my flaws but he too sees my value as a person and loves me despite the many things that I have still to learn.

This Christmas may be a somber one but I hope it will bring me closer to being the person that I need to be. I pray that it will show me that my purpose in life is to be who and what I am and point out the direction that I need to go from here. Most of all I hope that when I tell someone 'Merry Christmas " it will come from my heart not just my mouth. There is so much uncertaintanty in my life right now. Still there is one thing that I do not doubt. I am loved! Loved by God and by so many others. My family has gotten smaller over the years with so many losses but it has grown too. I have my children and their families and now I have all of Johnny's family too. They are now my family. They have all most all welcomed me with open arms. Just one more gift I have to thank my Johnny for.

I know you are near my love even tho I do not see you. I feel you hold me at night when I am so alone otherwise. I know that you lift me up when I start to stumble and feel that I can't go on. I know that you and all of my loved ones who have gone on like you have are near. I know that when I feel so alone at times God sees and sends you to me. What gift could be greater than that?

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