This holiday season my prayers are with the living. For all of you who have lost a loved one this past year or any year before that, my heart is yours.
When someone dies it’s as though your head does an owl spin and your whole perspective is forced to refocus. All the little things you were griping about don’t seem to matter. It puts the material world in its place and shifts the spiritual world into the spotlight where it belongs. Death is a sharp reminder how delicate it all is. How precious. How quickly things change. How nothing stays the same. How we need to soak it up. How we need to love, mend, build, forgive, and thank God for life and I suppose, for death. I guess death reminds us how brief and fragile it all is. It doesn’t make losing someone easy, or joyful, and the last thing you want to think about when you lose a baby or a parent is the ‘learning experience’ in it all. In fact, it might only teach you how harsh and cruel life can be. My prayer is for you. If you are suffering a loss this holiday season, my living spirit is praying for your living spirit.
Once a person dies we can only hypothesize about what they experience. We don’t really know. We really only know what we, the living, experience through their death. But don’t you feel like you know your beloved is still with you? It has happened to all of us. It is a spiritual experience that unites us all. Maybe it’s that look on your oldest son’s face that reminds you of your dad. Or that crazy sense of humour your daughter has that can only come from your mother. Maybe it’s a feeling, a calm, a warmth that passes through you. I think when that feeling happens it’s the soul of the person who has passed swimming through you reminding you that you are alive and they will never leave you. They are eternally alive in the ones around you, in you. Couldn’t it be true? After all, aren’t we all connected? Accept these little brushes with the spirit world. They are as real as you allow them to be. It doesn’t make the loss go away, but it can ease your sorrow for a moment.
Recently I heard of a family who lost their young son to a rare genetic disease. I followed their story via their blog. It was particularly agonizing to read now that I have my own young son. As I read their story, I felt guilty for all the complaining I’ve done. How I gripe if my child barfs or cries for extended periods of time. How I whine if he doesn’t sleep according to my specifications. One day I admitted to my husband that our son has a particular cry that drives me crazy. He said, “Really? I love it.” I rolled my eyes and groaned in disgust. “It reminds me how alive he is,” said Husband. Again, I rolled my eyes. When I read that the little boy had passed on, my son happened to launch into that particular cry. It was loud and it kept getting louder. As I held my heart for his parents left behind, I finally understood what Husband was talking about. I ran upstairs and scooped up my baby and cuddled him so hard. I felt thankful he is healthy enough to cry that loud. He’s strong enough to thrash around in his crib hard enough to wear his hair off. He’s hydrated enough to cry big, wet sopping tears. He’s spirited enough to squeeze my neck and burrow down to thank me for picking him up. He’s alive. We’re alive. We’re blessed even if it’s just for one more day. Be grateful for this one more day.
Even more recently, I heard of a family with two young boys who lost their mom to cancer. She was an acquaintance. I barely knew her, but she was always sweet, warm, and full of conversation. It never took her long to gush about her beautiful babies, (a feeling I know all too well now that I have my own.) When I read of her passing, I was so confused. How could she be taken away from her family? Why her? What will her babies do without her? How will her family and friends cope through the holidays? She will never get to feed her baby again. They will never feel her arms around them again, but I hope they will feel the surge of her spirit rush through them. She will always be with them. And when my own son bursts into tears at 4 am crying like I’ve never fed him before, I will think of her, and I will pray for her boys who live on. I will be thankful that I get to feed my baby one more time. I get to feel his warm, squishy body nuzzle into me as his breath changes from little dog pants to a more rhythmic, sleepy breath. I will remember that we are alive. We are blessed for one more day. Cherish.
And so, my prayer is for you. Whether it’s your first Christmas without the love of your life, or it’s the 50th, my prayer is for you. Even if you are suffering, take time to say a prayer for those who are also suffering. Take time to feel the spirit of loved ones passed as they move through your living soul. They. Are. With. You. Hold hands with the living to mourn the dead and dying. Pray for the ones you know are struggling to keep it together this holiday season. Take time to feel alive. We are blessed to have this day. Be mindful of the gift of life and say a prayer for the living.