Yesterday afternoon, a friend's father passed away. He had been in the hospital, but all reports had been good, so I was shocked to hear of his death. This afternoon, my husband learned that a very old friend of his passed away Monday night. Still young, she died in her mother's arms. I urged him to take comfort that she died somewhere safe and happy. I mean, I can't think of a better place to go than in the arms of someone who loves me.
Last year, a very dear friend of mine passed away just a few days before Christmas. He was a high school friend's father, my youth minister, and he was in my wedding ceremony. When he passed, it absolutely crushed me, and I remember being furious at God for taking away such a wonderful man just before Christmas and leaving his (grown) daughters with no one.
Losing a loved one is certainly never easy; no one has ever claimed it was, to my knowledge... But somehow, that loss seems profoundly deeper during the holidays. At a time when we are urged to celebrate family and togetherness, to express our love for one another, and to flock to our homes, it's devastating for a key figure in that image of Christmas Past to be missing.
My heart goes out to the two families whom I know have lost members this week, and to anyone who may be reading who is grieving the loss of a loved one. We all experience loss in our lives, and there's just no way to make it easier or to make it painless. This time of year, it's really thrown in your face if you've just lost a family member... There just are no words to make it right.
I wish we could have a guarantee that, during the month of December, no one would die. No one would suffer, accidents wouldn't happen, the ill would feel a temporary respite, and everyone could celebrate and love one another without fear of tragedy. I, for one, will be holding my husband and daughter extra close this season, telling my parents and brothers that I love them, and treasuring my Christmas celebrations with both sides of my extended family. I'll embrace being back home for the holidays. I'll be grateful that all my loved ones are near, if only for one night, and I'll put aside complaining about how life isn't quite what I had planned. Life is too short to be unhappy, and you never know when tragedy will strike. I'm going to make sure that Christmas is full of joy and love.