Monday, December 22, 2008

Bittersweet: Loss and the Holidays

This holiday season is different. There is a pervasive sadness that keeps pushing its unwelcome presence into the festivities. And although I am enjoying my preparations for Christmas and family, there is the knowledge that one of us will not participate. My sister-in-law, Sara, was killed in a horseback riding accident this past July. She was 41 years old.

My sorrow comes and goes with little reminders. Making chocolate chip cookies – Sara and I were lucky to have more than one batch make it to the oven. We ate too much of the dough first! Christmas shopping for my children – my heart breaks for Sara’s boys. There is no family gift exchange this year. Sara was the one who organized the exchange. Instead, this year we will donate to a charity. It is a good way to remember her, and I like to think that she would be pleased.

The reminders come as I watch friends at church. It has been a year of loss there as well. Bertha and MaryLouise are gearing up for the first Christmas without their husbands. Edna lost her sister and nephew within three weeks of each other. Another family is enduring a 2nd holiday season without their teenage daughter. It is evident that pain is still fresh.

But through it all I am also reminded that this is a season of hope. It’s why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. I am a woman of faith. And as such, I know that even though I grieve, those that are gone but lived in faith are not lost to me forever.

To those of you who have suffered loss this year I wish you comfort and joy. And to everyone: May the holiday season hold many blessings for you and your family.

Merry Christmas to you all.

10 comments:

Kim Kasch said...

I know how you feel. I lost my mother, aunt, and father-in-law all this year.

Plus, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through a double mastectomy with radiation and chemotherapy.

I am soooo looking forward to 2009 - hoping it will be better.

Brenda said...

{{{HUGS}}}

I hope you and your family have a Wonderful Holiday season and a safe and Happy New Year...

Hugs...

Kelly said...

Sorry for your loss, Nora. Faith will help get you through!
Have a wonderful holiday with your family.

Nora MacFarlane said...

Thank you, all. It's strange how you can be fine, just going about your business, and suddenly get blind sided by a memory. Sometimes in strange places - like the grocery store!

We really are looking forward to the holiday. And Kim, I'm with you. Here's to a fabulous 2009!

Rena said...

Beautiful post, Nora. In this day and age, sometimes it feels like all we have left is our faith. Thank heavens we know this life is just the beginning of something much greater.

It sounds like you have some wonderful memories of Sara to get you through, as bittersweet as they are. God bless.

Nora MacFarlane said...

Thank you, Rena.

C.R. Evers said...

(((hugs))))

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I lost my son 9 years ago, but I still miss him and think of him this time of year. I honor his memory by picking a child from the Angel tree at church that would have been his age and I buy gifts for that child.

more (((hugs)))

Christy

Nora MacFarlane said...

Thank you, Christy. Merry Christmas to you all.

CJ Raymer said...

Oh, Nora... I'm so sorry for your family's loss this past year. My thoughts and prayers are with you. We too have experienced a difficult loss this year as well.

In April, our dear friend Tim, tragically, took his own life. He left our sweet Beth to whom he was married to for only four short years. She was four months pregnant with their first born, Lydia.

Tonight is our church's candlelight Christmas Eve service. You see, my hubby and I are children's pastors (have been for 18 years), and Tim was our Associate Pastor and our Senior Pastor's son. It has been a very difficult eight months. And as we reflect on the celebration of life this evening, I've no doubt that it will be emotional, to say the least.

My heart aches for you, sweet friend. Continue to cherish those precious memories that bring you warmth and a smile. In the midst of it all, faith is what strengthens us and lifts us up. It is our substance.

XOXO CJ

Nora MacFarlane said...

CJ - I'll be thinking of you and your congregation tonight during our service. I'm the choir director and accompanist at my church. Blessings to you!