As I sit in the foyer, waiting for my best friend to arrive, I notice the details in the fabric of the chair across from me. I have seen that chair in so many churches over the span of my life and the familiarity of it is somehow comforting.
I think back ten minutes ago, I walked through the door and searched for her husband. I found him, his familiar face with his friendly smile gleaming, but his eyes were closed and his skin cold. I bent forward, over the edge of his casket, to place a kiss of farewell on his forehead. As I did so, my soul could feel his ever-present chuckle and sweet voice telling me that all would be well.
I moved toward the foot of his casket to tidy up the folds of his flag, an honor for me. One by one, I neatly folded the pleats representing his service to our great nation. Then I walked to the foyer, sat on the couch, and began waiting for my dear friend.
Today will be the worst day of her life; it is the day she will lay her beloved husband, Steve, into peaceful rest.
Her children and grandchildren will be here by her side, to help her through this most dreadful day. Friends will surround her and extended family too. She will have plenty of support. There will be moments when she will feel overwhelmed by too many people wanting to console her, all saying the same thing – that they are sorry for her loss. It is true, they are sorry for her loss. What more can be said? Emotions are so strained that barely speaking those few short words is difficult enough.
My husband and I have traveled four states to be here with her. Deep down in my heart, I need to be with her today. She and I have experienced life together, had our children together, celebrated life’s milestones together, endured war as our husbands were called away together, explored religion together, and grown older together. Our friendship is deeply rooted.
My utter love for her drives me to stand beside her as she walks through hell today. I would rather close my eyes, turn the other way, and wait for her nightmare to end: but this is not a dream. This is my best friend’s reality and I will be with her as she walks down this pathway of pain. I want to help her. I want to comfort and love her, and lift this burden from her, even though I know that is not possible.
Carrie is my dearest friend and today she travels a new life that neither she nor I, would ever choose. Within the next few hours, she will lower her beloved Steve into the earth’s protection, and she will say farewell. Carrie and Steve will now endure a separation that will try her sanity and test their endurance, but they shall not remain separated forever.
It has been two months since Steve passed and tomorrow we celebrate the birth of the wee Babe born in a manger, who suffered, died, and resurrected, so that all mankind might be saved through obedience to His laws and ordinances. The miracle of Christmas, the beginning of the greatest gift any of us has ever received, is upon us. That tiny Babe, born so long ago, came to redeem us and forced death to relinquish captivity over us. His grace offers us life eternal, the miracle of forgiveness, and the mighty power to resurrect. That brings peace to my soul, hope to my life, joy to my heart, and the ability to love and serve others. I pray for all humanity to know God’s loving embrace, that His peace will comfort those who suffer and mourn, and that the miracle of Christmas will transform your life to a better existence.
I hope that through this loathsome journey of pain, loneliness, and sorrow, upon which my friend is thrust, I can be the friend she needs, the friend I should be, the friend that my Savior asks of me.
Merry Christmas dear friends, may God’s love embrace you, and if you suffer loss and pain, may God’s eternal gift of life reunite you with your loved ones through His gift of grace.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), Funeral Home owner, professional artist, published author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.