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…