Five Days to Christmas
Today is my dad's birthday but he is not with us. The reality of his passing has yet to sink in, and so it feels rather strange to celebrate this day without having him around.
His absence is a painful reminder of how death impacts us at a deeper level, but then the memory of his presence has been so strong that it feels he is either in another room or that he is travelling somewhere.
I am aware that this sort of paradox is rather normal and expected since it implies that one has enjoyed being with the person who has passed on. It also means that grief doesn't necessarily come in clearly marked boxes but that it is fluid in nature and allows room for flexibility in making sense of it all.
Christmas may seem like an odd time to think of grief, but if one really ponders over the meaning of Christmas it may also seem to be the most appropriate topic to contemplate this season.
Mary was given an indication that being the mother of the Christ Child will not be an easy road for her, and that a 'sword will pierce her heart,' she was told. In that sense, Good Friday and Christmas go together because one can't have one without the other, and then there's Easter that comes in the end to remind us that all is not lost.
So as I remember my dad's birthday, there is that bittersweet reminder of loss but also a quiet assurance of resurrection that prompted Isaiah the prophet to ask, death, where is your sting?
As much as this grief is real for me, for my brothers and for our family and friends, I realise that this year we are sharing this ache with so many others who have also lost loved ones this year.
There is a certain pain that only those who have lost loved ones understand. This is because they know what it feels like to have an amputation done to the soul.
This kind of empathy is not restricted to a select few but COVID 19 has ensured that many more are dragged into its shadows.
Maybe the silver lining in all of this is that it would make humanity more compassionate but if history is any indicator then we know that's not going to be the case.
But we can hope for the best and see for ourselves if the shadows deepen or the silver linings increase
Only time will tell.