I sat in silence, flowers in my hand, and stared at the green hills in the distance. My legs just didn’t want to get out of the car. So, there I sat, and the minutes ticked by. And then my gaze was interrupted by another car that pulled up not far ahead of mine. An elderly man got out, he looked to be about 70. He went to the boot of his car and opened the lid; and then he looked around, back and forth. He even looked a little suspicious. I wondered what he was doing, and what he had in his boot. He reached in, lifted something heavy out and placed it on the ground. It was a lawn-mower. Looking all around again, he then wheeled the lawnmower to the grave, started the engine and then carefully mowed the area, a perfect rectangle. Returning the mower to the boot, he then got out a rake and tidied every blade of grass. Finally, he placed a bunch of white roses into a vase at the head of the tombstone. Shortly after that, he left.
I was overwhelmed by everything I had witnessed.
My own grief had been interrupted by my deep compassion for this elderly man. I presumed he had mowed the grave of his wife. I began to imagine the long life they had shared together, and I wondered what she was like. I think she would have been a neat and orderly person, that’s what it felt like to me. He had mowed the lawn to make it nice and tidy for her. She would have appreciated him doing that. How amazing of him, I thought… he did it to honor her, and he did it to express his love for her. How he must miss her, I thought. Tears filled my eyes “Father, please bless the man” I whispered, “let Him know that you are close to him this Christmas”. I sat in silence for a long time and gazed once more at the green hills in the distance.
And then, finally, I knew it was my turn. Taking a very deep breath, I opened the car door, clutching the flowers in my hand, I stepped out …
You may be wondering why would I share this story, especially just a few days before Christmas, which is a time of joy …
My sole purpose in writing is for all those who are dealing with grief and loss at Christmas.
And if that’s you, I want you to know that you are not alone. (Even if you feel you are). You aren’t.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. I am thinking of you.
Like you, I understand what it’s like to see the missing chair at the Christmas table.
But I’m not writing this, just to say that I understand.
I want to tell you something else.
And that is (despite the deep ache in your soul) I know you are a person who has chosen to put “best foot forward” (to quote Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music).
You have decorated your home, made Christmas treats and braved the shops looking for gifts for others you care about in your life.
Because you have made the noble decision to be “present” for those you love. You are thinking of them.
What am I saying?
Here’s to you. You are amazing and courageous and brave. Yes, very brave.
In my own life, I continue to navigate the choppy waters of grief.
It’s been a few years now, and this journey will continue until that amazing day when I arrive in heaven and see our precious son again. I imagine the joy of that reunion often. Very often. And through the tears, it makes me smile … really smile.
Jesus birth made this possible. And that to me is by FAR the best thing about Christmas.
And so I pray, that this truth anchors you too in the choppy waters of your grief.
And I also pray that the perfect peace of Jesus, the Prince of Peace fills your heart this Christmas. May He wrap you tight in His perfect and eternal love.
Emmanuel, Jesus is with you.