Sunday greetings, everyone!

another christmas closerThis Christmas comes with some emotional challenges for me.

Many of you will remember that my sister, Melissa, passed away shortly after Christmas last year. Officially the date of her death was December 31, but she was probably gone on the 28th when she ended up on life support. Between those dates the doctors first tried to see if she was still there, and then looked to see if any of her organs could be donated when they determined she wasn't.

Whichever date it was that she left her body is immaterial to the fact that all of the "first times without Melissa" we have gone through as a family (except for New Year's Eve) have fallen in the 2022 calendar year. And so with 48 weeks of practice missing her I anticipated Christmas would be the last "first year without her" hurdle to face. But then an unexpected thought splashed into my head last week when it occurred to me that a year ago she was still here. That splash brought a surprise wave of sadness when I realized I was running out of days when that would be true.

It has been 26 years since Susan and I moved to the West Coast of Canada, marking the beginning of living 3,000 miles away from my family. Over those years I have been no stranger to goodbyes at the airport after wonderful visits by both family and friends. But it is one particular goodbye at the airport that sticks out to me as the hardest: the day our eldest child flew the nest at 17 for a summer exchange program in Quebec before going on to college in Toronto. It was a new beginning for all of us, but for my wife an I it was also an ending, and a sorrowful one at that.

After sitting with Alyssa until there was only enough time to say goodbye before she caught her flight, Susan and I proceeded to a lounge in the Victoria Airport where those not travelling can watch planes come and go. There we stood at the window, watching our daughter's plane back away from the gate, taxi to the runway, take to the air and then bank away from us. I had said goodbye and she was no longer with me, but still seeing Alyssa's proximity comforted me - or at least delayed the dreadful reality of something irreversible that my heart was crying out to my brain to undo. I watched her plane get smaller and smaller until the point I was afraid to blink because I might not be able to find the spot where that speck had been when I closed my eyes. Eventually even wide open eyes could see her no more

The realization that there are only a few days left when I can say, "Melissa was still here last year at this time," made me feel like I did at that airport window. My heart and my brain panicked together, wanting to come up with a plan to undo everything while at the same time coming to grips again with the fact that nothing could be undone. The comfort and distraction of her proximity will be gone soon too.

Make no mistake. I am confident and comforted that my sister is safe in arms of Jesus whose birth she celebrated during Christmas . . . . last year at this time. But I wanted to share what I am feeling this Christmas because I know some of you are feeling the same, or similar, things.

Today's video share (Another Christmas Closer) fits right in with all of those feelings.

Click here to watch the video.

Enjoy the rest of today's mailing.

~ Pastor Tim