Death at Christmas

Life, life, life goes on, but we had death this Christmas.

A golden, glass orb hanging from an evergreen bough mirrored our reflections, huddled and silent, on the front row.  The little church, whose exposed beams, stained glass and vintage charm could elicit delight under any other circumstance, glowed with the season’s trimmings.  But we were here for a funeral, and the proceedings moved forward, with or without us.

He died in his sleep, far too young.  He was my husband’s twin, and we will miss him.

As I sat thinking during the introductory music, I rewound backwards in time to the century’s turn, on my fall birthday, when we buried my only sister.   I remembered how on that Christmas, we planted a tree on her grave, and how God scolded me back into fellowship with Him, and drew me out of a furious pout that I called grief.

In the present, I clutch a wadded tissue and squeeze my husband’s hand.  A we-can-do-this smile passes between us.  We have shared much, this man and I, and we share pain this day.

Isn’t it strange how death is not enough?  It seems there must be peripheral drama to deepen the wounds.  This funeral, as with my sister’s, was no exception.  We all get stuck and wallow in the human dilemma from time to time, don’t we?  But we endured.  And we pressed on.

Afterwards, as family and friends trudged away from the graveside, my thoughts turned to a friend, also too young, trapped in a body paralyzed by ALS, in a hospital bed in her living room this Christmas. We were classmates, and I’m told the birds outside her window bring her joy.  I fear her time on this earth is also short.

Death at Christmas.  

Dear friends, I don’t understand these things, and I have no answers to the questions.  But I can share a personal decision that helped me make it through a string of illnesses, tragedies, and deaths.  After struggling with some “whys”, and growing frustrated and angry, I simply stopped asking. I knew that if I persisted in seeking those elusive answers, I would go crazy.  And I made the decision to trust God.

Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t easy.  He seemed to ask, “Stephanie, am I enough, even in this?”  Well, was He?  Could I say that  He was good, even in the bad things?   After a tug-of-war, I decided that the answer was yes.  And I put my hand in his, just like a little child.

That’s my story, and nothing more.

Now, I have hope.  I can rejoice, because of Him.  He’s been faithful, even when I doubted that He was.

Jesus was a baby born to die.  And because of His death, I live.

If I never receive another Christmas gift, in His birth and death, I have enough.  At Christmastime, and always.

From my heart to yours, Christmas love, and hope for a bright, New Year…


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21 Responses to Death at Christmas

  1. adam bryant says:

    Stephanie, I am so sorry for yalls loss. You always write beautifully even though the content might be painful for you to share. I am praying for Barry and your family as life goes on. I look forward to seeing you all at Pauls wedding. Love you, and talk to you later.

  2. Susan says:

    Stephanie, such hard things. Been through some and my outcome was the same as yours. “I WILL TRUST HIM.” Much love to you.

  3. Amen Stephanie…and so so sorry! Hugs and prayers for you all during this season of grief.

  4. Rene' says:

    Beautiful, Stephanie!

  5. Cindy Barber says:

    Stephanie – Beautifully written. I experienced many similar questions after the death of my husband and lived “grief struck” for almost five years. One day I too made a choice to just stop asking and accept. The pain shows up from time to time but is no longer crippling. I could live peacefully in my acceptance. Thanks for sharing your story. May it bring hope to others.

    Lisa is also on my mind these days and I pray for her often.

    • Thank you, Cindy. So good to hear from you. I thank God my grief-stuck life was shorter than yours. We lose so much time, sometimes, don’t we? I found the link that explains how a thankful heart saved my life after Allison’s death: http://wp.me/pTpkO-nc

      I will add that in to my post.

      Bless you, Cindy.

  6. Gay says:

    Stephanie,
    I am so sorry for the loss of Larry. I am sure Barry feels it more than the rest of the world. But as you say, we have to accept and go forward. God IS good and has a way of making us see the good, doesn’t he? It may not be in the timeframe we want, but eventually His light shines.

  7. Janet Burris Papson says:

    Stephanie,

    I am so sorry for your family’s recent heartbreaking experience, but I rejoice in the thought that you have found strength in the Lord to help you both through. I did not know about Allison’s death and my sincere sympathies are sent to you. Losing a sibling, both you and Barry, must be one of the hardest life experience, but I am also thankful that you have each other, your love is so apparent in your pictures that you share. I too, have been thinking of Lisa, my heart is broken for her and her family as well. I tend to gripe about things in my life, but I have realized through first losing Patty Haggard, now losing Lisa…that I should rejoice in my life, thanking God each day for another and baste in the love of my children and family. God Bless you all, sweet friend.

    • Janet, such a joy to hear from you. Thank you for your sweet words. I had forgotten about Patty Haggard. I’m sad for myself that I’ll never see her smile again, but I know she is in a joyous place!

      Bless you for reading and commenting. You are an encouragement. And you have a wonderful attitude about things. Good for you!

      Much love…

  8. Cousin Tony says:

    I didn’t know Barry’s brother passed. I know you were close. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  9. Margaret Stark Fancher says:

    I am so happy to have found your posts. Your writing shows me your love for the Lord. When we have heartache it is so easy to lash out at God and ask why? My son recently went through a divorce that was not of his chosing. I kept asking God why did you take away my son’s family he fought so hard to keep. I prayed around the clock for months. I cried, screamed and pleaded with God to give my son his family back. His answer was no. I still don’t understand the why, but I know He has a plan. We must trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-6 are favorite verses of mine. My prayers are with you, Barry and all of Larry’s family. I remember Larry as a kind and gentle guy. Love to you and your family.

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