Christmas is a joyous time of year. Celebrating the birth of Jesus. Enjoying time with family and friends. Finding a moment of peace here on Earth. However, this Christmas I’ve acknowledged the sting of loss during this season. Just yesterday, I learned of two deaths, and my heart ached for their families left behind.
One was a regular at the bar I work at… a kind man who you could depend on for anything. He was our resident carpenter. Sometimes I think the bar was still standing thanks to him. He took many under his wings, standing in as a father figure to many. He had a genuine smile, and was quiet. Often times you didn’t know what he was thinking, but when you’d get to talk to him you’d be revealed a wealth of knowledge. He and my husband became friends after learning they were both Freemasons. When I would work in the hot dog stand, he’d come buy out the candy bars, often leaving me a nice tip. (Even when I’d carefully return him change to avoid it, he’d chide me and tell me to break the big bills down into smaller bills.) His want to buy all the candy to give to the bartenders and waitresses next door made me smile… his kindness unmistakable.
When I received word that he had a massive stroke, with 0% chance of survival, my heart stopped for a moment. And when I heard word he had been taken off life support and had passed away, my heart ached deeply for his children, left two days before Christmas without their Dad… a man who was truly an angel walking here on Earth.
Then later, I learned a woman who graduated a few years ahead of me — her sister a classmate of mine — passed away suddenly yesterday morning. Scouring Facebook for more details, my heart once again ached for the two beautiful little girls left this Christmas without their Mom. This woman posted just Tuesday that she couldn’t wait for Friday, I presume to start her Christmas celebrations. I was struck by life’s cruel irony that Friday would instead be her last day here on Earth. I dropped a note to her sister, but words just seemed cheap at this moment.
This all comes on top of learning about deaths in car accidents (specifically a Texas A&M football player earlier this week), and loss of homes. Death. Loss of any kind. They all sting. But their sting is just a bit sharper. Just a bit more bitter in this time of joy all around.
I pray for strength for these families dealing with their losses. I pray they can still find joy in Christmas, even if its a bittersweet joy. Similarly, I hope those who lost loved ones throughout the last year can find ways to honor their lost loved one, but still see the peace of the holiday. The hope and joy its meant to bring.
My grandma always loved Christmas. The family would gather. Songs were sung; poems were read. Gifts were shared, and food… oh all the food. My parents now live in what was my grandparent’s house, and even though they’ve been in this house for 10 years now — it being my home as well for over half that time — I still will get a moment of pause remembering memories of times lost past, especially here at Christmas. Just today I had one of those brief moments walking through the dining room. For a split second it was as if I stepped back in time, and instead of at Mom and Dad’s house, I was in Grandma’s house and it was time to start preparing for our Christmas dinner soon. I didn’t want to shake the feeling off. I wanted to revel in it. I wanted to remember with a smile.
I hope those facing their deep loss this Christmas will one day do the same; they’ll not look at Christmas with sadness but with the joy of those beautiful memories made before this sadness hit them. God Bless them all and give them strength.
Let’s all take a moment this Christmas to enjoy those we love a little more than usual. To file away those happy memories for the future. They are more priceless than any physical gift could ever hope to be…