Made it!

Thank heavens we have made it through the Christmas season of 2008 without another death! The last several years have not been easy ones for our family in December.

2002 was the first year my husband played Santa Claus at a shopping mall. He had a great experience–the program was well run and he was good friends with the other Santa. They were looking forward to working together in future years. But in early February, the other man was killed in a freak tractor accident.

My father-in-law (who had Alzheimer’s and was in a nursing home) got sick on Christmas Eve 2003…which was my in-laws 67th wedding anniversary! He died December 27.

In 2004, our oldest grandson–a Marine–died on his 21st birthday…December 1. He had been in Iraq–had made it back to the States safely, and was due to be home for Christmas. But some “buddies” woke him up about 5 minutes into his 21st birthday and took him out to “celebrate.” They brought him back several hours later, left him on his bed, and he never woke up. Jay had an occasional drink, but he was not a drinker–and it looks like he probably fell victim to a very unofficial Marine birthday celebration…putting up 21 shots of liquor and encouraging the birthday boy to drink them down because “you’re a Marine!” He would not have known the dangers.

In 2005, my father was in the process of dying–a process that had been going on for a couple of years. He was with hospice and was able to share in the Christmas celebration from the hospital bed in the living room. Then he went into a coma and died peacefully on December 27.

Thankfully 2006 passed without any losses. But in 2007, my mother-in-law decided that she had dealt with breast cancer long enough–especially without her husband. And on one October Monday morning, she decided that was it…she quit eating and two days later–on October 3–she was gone.

Needless to say, we’ve become a bit wary of this time of year! It’s not because of any dread of death. We are Christians with a strong faith in God–and a belief that death is not the end…just a doorway into new life. But it is difficult to deal with the physical loss of someone–and all the questions those situations bring up, especially for the youngsters who miss Grandma or Grandpa–during a time of celebration.

I know that we will have more losses to face. There are still eight members of the immediate senior generation living, and they each have their own health issues.

I am just grateful that this holiday season gave us a respite from facing questions of mortality.