I wanted to tell you something the other day. I even went as far as picking up my phone to text you. I don’t even remember what it was, but at the time, it mattered. It was important because you would have got it. Whether it be funny or mundane, child-related, or some nonsense from a film, you would have understood and been on my wavelength.
But just as I was about to . . . I remembered.
You see, sometimes, just briefly, I forget you’re gone. When you’re so used to having someone around, it seems hard to comprehend that suddenly they won’t be.
Yet, that is what happened.
It is still sometimes very difficult, three years later, to understand or come to terms with the fact that it was at Christmas when you left us. Especially as, just like me, you loved this time of year.
It was like an added pain to the already heartbreaking news we’d had to endure. But there it was.
Six days before Christmas day, and we lost you. A brother to me, but also a son, a husband, a father, an uncle, and a friend to so many people. You created many broken hearts that day. A day I will never forget.
Christmas this year will be hard for so many, and I already know there will be things I will miss about this one with the current restrictions. But compared to Christmas 2017, I’d take a lockdown any day.
I was wondering the other day about grief. Not just grief but hard times in anyone’s life. Bereavement, illness, homelessness, addiction, redundancy, the list goes on. War, famine, abuse. This is not a life free from trouble and everywhere you turn people are suffering. It can be so easy to get dragged down with it all and be in a constant state of worry for the future. For our children.
But then I realized why Christmas is so important and what kind of a reminder it is for us all. Why this time of year highlights the reason we all have to be hopeful rather than the opposite.
And it is the simple picture of a baby lying in the straw. A newborn infant coming into the world bringing, not just love, but joy and life and hope.
A new promise, a new start.
He lives in us. That tiny baby resides in our hearts and when we need it most, in our darkest days, He can provide us with the comfort we need.
On the day we lost you, brother, I found strength from somewhere. Strength to put other people first and put their needs before my own. Others who were suffering much more than me. Strength to get important jobs done. Strength to keep going.
And I know now where I got that strength from.
On Christmas Day that year, we found joy. Joy for the sake of our children. Your daughters and your nieces and nephews. Joy that perhaps was false at first but then seeped into our souls for a greater enjoyment of their beautiful, excited eyes.
And I know now where we found it.
Christmas is a difficult time of year for receiving bad news. This year in particular will affect many. But perhaps the timing is more well-executed than we think.
We are brokenhearted because we’re human. But the spiritual side of us knows that this is not the end.
If ever there was a reminder about the goodness of God, surely it’s the story of Christmas. The fact that He sent His only Son as a vulnerable infant to show the world a new way to love.
There is hope in that newborn baby’s face as He sleeps in His mother’s arms. A hope which we surely have to cling to during the toughest times of our lives.
We needed lots of comfort that year when we lost you. And I believe Christmas is a reminder that we can find it if we just look in the right place.
So instead of looking at Christmas as the worst time to have to suffer, let us look at it as the best time for being comforted. The story of the first Christmas can give us enough hope to endure these days and these times.
Because that’s where it all began.
I wanted to share that with you, because you believed it, too. You knew there was more to Christmas than just pretty lights and presents. And that’s why you loved it.
I guess I can still share things with you after all.