Thursday, December 24, 2015
Merry Christmas Eve. It’s about 3:30 in the morning and like usual, I’m awake and ready to begin the day. Christmas Eve is the big day of celebration in my family with festivities beginning mid-morning and lasting through midnight/late night mass tonight. Typically it is a day of great joy and celebration, but today our hearts are heavy with grief. Many of have heard/read that my 56 year-old cousin, Tammy, died this week as a result of a horrific accident in her own driveway. Her father, my uncle Fred, was moving his motorhome and somehow Tammy got smashed between the motorhome and her truck. It was truly a tragedy. We will bury her on Saturday.
My family is not the only one who are hurting this year; so many of you have lost loved ones in this past year and sadness/grief/longing will intersperse with the joy and excitement of the festivities. My heart goes out to each of you that is hurting; whatever the reason. It is times like these when we have to really dig deep and work hard to seek the positive and be grateful for the blessings we do have, rather than dwell on what we’ve lost……certainly not an easy task.
I’ve been struggling all week to find words to say to comfort my uncle, Tammy’s husband and children, and her siblings, but I am at a loss. There really aren’t words to make sense of it all. There isn’t anything that I can say to bring her back. I don’t know why God took her home or why all of this happened. It is simply one of those times when I must trust that God is present and in control. I felt the same emotions multiple times this past year when other things happened that didn’t seem fair or I didn’t understand. Why did my dear friend Carol have to have not one, but both, legs amputated this year? Why did my co-worker and his wife lose his son to brain cancer? Why did a terrorist blow up a plane or shoot innocent people? Floods, fires, storms…….war, violence, death…….sickness, depression, grief…….Day-by-day we are bombarded with news of yet another tragedy, and yet, in spite of it all, I am ABUNDANTLY blessed. I cannot change the things that happen around me, but I certainly have the power to change how I react to them; therefore, this morning I am pondering what Tammy’s death has reminded me of: Life is a gift, and each day is precious.
In a few hours I will be surrounded by 35+ family members. There will be noise and chaos and excitement. There will be tears and laughter; sorrow and pain; old and young. There will be wall-to-wall people, coats piled on the bed, gifts stacked all over the place and more food than we need. Mostly, there will be love. In reality, nothing else really matters, does it? Suddenly, it doesn’t seem that important whether or not there were 14 different kinds of cookies on the cookie platter or whether the gifts are wrapped in such a way that the wrapping paper lines up perfectly. Petty jealousy, grudges, past hurts and insults seem trivial now; let them go. “This one spent more money on a gift”……”that one is thinner or has more money”…… “why did she send YOU a card; I didn’t get one”…. “She never does anything to help clean up”…. “Their kid is a brat…..she did this or that…..” Thoughts, sometimes spoken, other times left to fester……that contribute nothing to one’s well-being and personal growth, and mean absolutely nothing when you think about how quickly life can be taken away. What is truly important is the conversations we have with one another; the meal we share; the way we speak and act, and the love which binds it all together.
My wish for you and your family is that you will discover and dwell on that which is truly important…..and let the rest go. Stay focused on your journey, but cherish your celebrations and the gift of each other. Life is VERY VERY short and none of us are given a guarantee for tomorrow. Please keep my family in your prayers as we face these coming days. Merry Christmas to you and yours…..