A merry Christmas to you and your family, that is if I get this posted before midnight 🙂 . Even if I do, many of you will still be reading on “this shirt is too small day” (Dec. 26 for those of you outside of my humor level). That’s OK though; you’re not alone. The majority of my Christmas cards await their first visit to the post office. So, I suppose I should say that I hope you had a merry Christmas. However, a couple of packages that I had sent late to Pueblo (thanks to my own absentmindedness and the infamous Colorado blizzard of 2006) did arrive thanks to the willing parcel delivery persons of the United States Postal Service voluntarily getting the stuff that looks like Christmas-priority delivered today.
This Christmas was, well, different. A little history. Seven years ago, this very month, Grandpa (Dad’s side) passed away. It was right at the start of finals week, and with many thanks to my aunt and birth mom, I was able to be at the funeral. Though it was hard having a death at a time that was to be filled with joy, it was one we were all prepared for. Grandpa had been suffering with cancer for many years. We knew someday would be his last and for a while, it seemed a spark had been lit in the family, particularly amongst my cousins. The greater joy was that Grandpa had received Christ as his personal Savior a year and a half prior to his death.
So this year started. It’s been a while since we’ve been to Pueblo together as a family. It had been our Christmas thing to do, but since I’ve started working outside the family (in 2003), schedules are a little tougher to manipulate. It’s amazing how God knows what you need to be ready for before you realize it.
At Vacation Bible School this year, we talked about Heaven. I have to admit, I hadn’t put much thought into Heaven, other than as of the summer of 1988 knowing I would go there when I die and that I would get to see my Aunt Stephanie and now Grandpa. A month later, Dad saw me at work while he was shopping so he could do an oil change on Mom’s car. The next day, she would be heading to Pueblo, as Grandpa had checked into the ER with pneumonia. Grandpa had been in the hospital before, and he’s pulled through, so I figured let him recover and Mom will be back. She was mainly there to help out Grandma.
However, something was different this time. That still small voice kept sounding forth within me, no matter how much I prayed that night. So when I got home that morning, I notified the online brethren and “sisteren.” At that time, Mom and I were employed at the same location, so I knew the managers knew she was out for a while, but I wanted to be sure, that if needed, I could get some time off. Not that I planned to use it, I just wanted to be sure. I had vacation/personal time and bereavement at my main job, so at this point, I had not brought up the issue there.
The next day I had hardly got any sleep when Dad awoke me from outside my bedroom window. I met him on my porch and he delivered the news. At that moment, sleep became irrelevant. I called and e-mailed friends. I called my day employer and Dad had just talked with them I read Scriptures, prayed, tried to gather thoughts. Went to work that night, tired as everything, and asked about time off for the coming week.
What a week that was. 5 PM (or so) never seemed quite right. The clock would strike and the news would come on, but Grandpa never walked in the door. He always finished his work around 5 PM. Even now, when I’m at Mom and Dad’s, 5 PM occasionally seems like Grandpa ought to be walking in.
Fast forward to yesterday and even the day before (alas, it is after midnight by 30 minuets here in the Rocky Mountain West). We opened presents Sunday night. For no particular reason, it was almost Monday afternoon before we got to our stockings. I got Grandpa’s pen and pencil set which is when that emptiness began creeping in. I watched a Janette Oak movie with Mom and Grandma (it was Mom’s Christmas gift twice this year).
We had dinner around 3 PM. Though Grandma and Grandpa had never had Christmas in Cody, it seemed there was an empty space at the table. Later, Mom and I went out and looked at the Christmas lights in town. I told her about some neat articles I had printed off that morning. We saw many a spectacular display. And while we drove, Mom asked “Do they celebrate Christmas in Heaven?” To be honest, I don’t know, but I speculated that they probably did. And if so, Grandpa had the best one he’s ever had.
So, for now, we feel a void in our hearts. It seems I have many right now. I long to see loved ones gone before me. I wonder what my two Grandpa’s are doing together that they never used to. I long to find and/or figure out who my beloved bride will one day be.
In the sermon that was preached at Grandpa’s funeral, it was noted that before Christ, death was our enemy. But when the individual receives Christ as his Savior, death becomes our friend. While the absence of loved one’s here may cause pain, there is a joy that runs deeper. And that joy is in the best gift I ever received. I am so glad that He included me.