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"1st Christmas Without Dad '03"

On behalf of my family, I want to wish you a very special Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year. We know many of you will be gathering with family and loved ones this year, exchanging gifts with one another, and treasuring the many memories you've had over the years or perhaps new ones created this past year. We join you in that celebration.

For others, Christmas brings out just the opposite feeling. Some of you dread this holiday season because of a sundry of reasons. Sadly, there are some who have no family to visit this year. Some can't be with loved ones due to the geographical distances; others can't visit relatives living close by due to broken relationships. Some of you have tasted the bitter experience of going through a divorce, the loss of a companion and friend. For others, this year is just another anniversary date of someone you love and, now, no longer is with you due to their passing.

I can never lose one whom I have loved unto the end. My beloved, the one to whom my soul cleaves so firmly that it can never be separated, does not go away but only goes before. Be mindful of me when you get to heaven, my friend, for I shall soon folllow you. - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

We understand your grief for we are now experiencing our 1st anniversary at Christmas without our husband/father. My father passed away this July. It was sudden and so unexpected that we are just beginning to taste morsels of reality. Some of you have been reliving these feelings each holiday season. Your sadness is very real and perhaps still very fresh. Ours is. I'm not sure what form of encouragement I can offer you this year as I feel empty as you do.

However, there are some thoughts that have been ruminating within my heart and mind over the past few months. I'm hoping to post my holiday reflection early in the new year. May this bring some form of consolation to you and, if there is nothing you get from it, may you know that there are others who understand your pain.

Sometimes you wish you there was something, some little thing to remove that pain for just a moment. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you, "It's ok to mourn; you're not alone."

This is my specific pray for you: That God may somehow touch you in the dark and lonely areas of your heart, the places where NO one can fully understand what you're going through, except you and your Lord. He knows you more than you know yourself. May he hear our cries this year and pour some form of healing over our bandaged wounds.

Blessings to you,

Justin (a fellow traveler)