We enjoyed a daytime Christmas Eve gathering with my wife’s family and then two Christmas Eve worship services. Christmas morning with family went as expected and then the Southwest mess caught up with my daughter. She and her husband of five months had planned to fly from Oakland to Las Vegas and then drive up to Cedar City, UT to connect with his family for Christmas. Fortunately, he happened to check the Southwest website and saw their flight was cancelled.
They recovered to drive to Vegas and then went up to Cedar City the next day.
It already had been a difficult time for his family. His younger sister had miscarried her twins a couple of days before and had no interest in a Christmas celebration. And, her husband, was seriously ill and had been so for several months without a definitive diagnosis. Not a happy time for them despite their devout Catholic faith.
The diagnosis finally came in and it was ugly—stage 4 pancreatic cancer. A few days later, his wife found him unresponsive and he passed 24 hours later. A really tough time for all of those in Cedar City—the couple has a 2 ½ year old daughter.
My immediate family’s unexpected event came Dec. 26 when my brother-in-law, who lives here in Pleasanton, suffered what appeared to be a massive heart attack and died. He was the first of our generation to pass. My parents had been gone since my dad died in 2001, while my wife’s father passed in 2009.
Obviously, it strikes very close to home. We’re focused on helping my sister while considering that, in my faith, God the father has written the days of all of our lives in his book and only he knows their duration.
2022 was an up-and-down year for my brother’s wife who is my age. She received a cancer diagnosis, underwent successful surgery with no chemo required and now is off on a cruise. Praise God for successful outcomes.
And I also keep the situation in perspective thinking about another family I know. One son drowned Christmas Eve three years ago while rescuing his daughter from the Pacific Ocean, his brother-in-law committed suicide last year before Christmas and their father passed last month on Dec. 17.
As it did with that family, I know this will change our memories of Christmas for a while, but as I think back to losing my parents, the holidays without them now are normal and there are plenty of great memories from Christmases past.
The takeaway that we’ve all heard is simple—make the most of your days and hug the ones you love and tell them you love them.