This has been a difficult advent season for me. Since the sudden passing of my uncle in November, I have felt the wave of grief wash over me again.
It will be five years ago on December 25th that my mom passed away suddenly of a heart attack. It has been long enough now that I am used to life without her, but long enough that the absence of her is so painfully evident in my life. I can’t pretend anymore that she is really here, but just on vacation for a while.
I can’t help but think about how old Janelle and Willem were, my two oldest children, when she died. Before I went to see her in the hospital on December 23, 2010, I had shown her the most recent photographs of Willem at age 2, sitting on a potty, just beginning to train and Janelle at 7 months, grinning with her two little teeth. Those two pictures hold a lot of meaning to me now.
The fact that she doesn’t know my other 3 children is astonishing. I keep picturing a moment when she walks in the door and she sees how the kids have grown and I get to introduce her to the three grandchildren she has never met. This moment will never happen, but it is nice for me to imagine.
Living life without my mom is tough. She was my cheerleader. She was my go-to person for advice and Godly wisdom. She knew when to push me and when to comfort me.
The longer I am a mom, the more I discover the key to her secret powers. Growing up, I never understood how, in the middle of the night, she was already awake and at my bedside before I threw up. I never could figure out how she knew something bad had happened to me at school. But I get it now. I can read my kids like a book. Every facial expression is a clue to how they are feeling inside. Every unusual sound or movement in the middle of the night alerts me to wake up. Moms just know because they know their kids.
I miss my mom being that person to me. But I am so thankful I can still feel her presence when I experience the same thing with my own kids. I’m so thankful I get to be a little bit like the mom she was to me to my own offspring. Of course I’m not exactly like her, that wouldn’t exactly be healthy, but so much of who she was rubbed off on me and I get to pass it on.
I know Christmas can be hard for many people. Even those who’s family member didn’t die on December 25th. Christmas is a reminder that the loved one has missed yet another year of family life. The grief never completely disappears, but the wave grows bigger and stronger during special occasions.
I encourage you to take time this Christmas season to tell a grieving friend you are thinking of them. I so appreciate the notes I get from friends saying they are remembering my mom or thinking of me during this season.
Remember that no matter how much time has past, the loved one is always remembered and always missed. The pain of the loss comes and goes, but the new normal never feels quite right.
The birth of Christ is the light we long for in this dark month. We anticipate the coming of the Savior with urgency. Our broken world is suffering: millions of displaced people due to war, bombs in public places, shootings at innocent victims, severe storms that bring about disaster, mental illness that plagues the mind, cancer that destroys a body, and the death of a loved one all display a world in pain.
The earth is groaning. The labour pains are getting more intense. The suffering is becoming unbearable.
This advent season, I pray for Jesus to come. To bring us relief of the sadness we feel for the broken state we and our precious world is in.
I pray for the healing of hearts, bodies and minds.
And I pray that as we wait, we can shed light in the dark places. To bring hope to someone this Christmas. To share with others that not all is lost to brokenness.
I pray for peace.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Luke 1: 76-79 (Zechariah’s Song)
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”