I remember when my Mom died decades ago, I found myself in the fetal position sobbing on a random Tuesday about six months after her death. You never know when it will hit.
My father-in-law died on Wednesday after a long illness. He was blessed with 86 years on this earth – 65 of which he was married to “his best catch.” (He was also an avid fisherman.) The loss starts as a relief but there will be heaving sobs that show up on a random morning, just as there will be foggy afternoons when only a nap with a cozy blanket will help.
It’s hitting some of us that this could be our first Christmas without “everyone.” Clergy, medical professionals, and others are used to spending holidays at work. But even we get to see our loved ones around a big table eventually – in the general vicinity of the holiday. Many of us spent Thanksgiving with smaller gatherings. But Christmas feels like it will be harder.
The only Christmas of my life I didn’t spend with my Mom was her last Christmas. I was a pastor. My husband was a pastor. We had a baby and lived five states away. It was just too hard.
This Christmas will be the first for many of us without someone who has always been there, either because of death or quarantine. It will be hard. But it won’t be forever.
In life and in death, we belong to God.