Life Is Short

The other day when I was walking back from the gym, I saw two girls racing around the neighbourhood on bikes. I smiled, remembering past summers of chalk houses and bikes with fancy bells.

One little girl, on a pink bike closed her eyes. “This means I’m practically relaxing on my bike,” she told her friend proudly.

Her friend, who was on a floral pink bike, tried it. She shrieked, finding it difficult to keep her balance on the bike with her eyes closed.

Suddenly, I heard a car coming up behind them. I turned instantly, hoping the girls were off the road.

“Jenna, that car could have runned you over!” the friend on the floral bike called as Jenna, who had been closing her eyes still, crossed the street, eyes now wide open, right in front of the car that could have killed them both.

I breathed a sigh of relief that they were alright. But it reminded me that life is so short. Perhaps we may live 60 or 70 or 80 years, but those will go by quickly and never seem long enough. Or maybe we’ll die young and people will say it was “long before our time.” Regardless, we seem to go quickly and suddenly, when our eyes are closed but our feet are pedaling quickly.

Last week, I had a dream about someone I hadn’t seen in years. She was an acquaintance friend and sort of a fixture at church events. But she passed away before our first year of highschool had finished. In my dream, I was at her memorial again. And I remembered that life sometimes doesn’t end when we think it will.

On my birthday this year, I got three envelopes all in one day. They were from a grandpa, a grandpa, and a grandma. It wasn’t until later that I realized that all my birthday cards from grandparents had coincidentally come on one day. It’s been two years and the grief has mellowed, but sometimes I still can’t get used to the fact that my other grandma is gone from this earth forever.

Amongst all this death and scares of death, the most paining thing of all was a comment from a relative. We were talking about death. He made it seem as if it is better for anyone to die because “there is nothing after earth.” Nothing. Nothing at all. I wanted to disagree. I wanted to give him the hope of heaven, but I didn’t know how to tell him about the horrors of hell. I didn’t feel qualified and so I left it. It reminded me that life is not only short, but we must be prepared for whatever end we take.

Eternity is a long time. Much longer than any of us could imagine. I invite you to spend yours with Jesus for He is the only way to healing after death.

My Favourite Christmas Present

It’s Christmas Eve but I don’t understand it.  All month I haven’t been able to fully realize that Christmas is just around the corner. How can it be Christmas tomorrow? I keep wondering.

It’s not just that either, I haven’t been looking forward to Christmas this year. I didn’t complain when we got our tree on the 21st, I didn’t enjoy decorating the tree, and I put off doing baking until last Sunday. I don’t really care too much about the presents I’m getting and I realized yesterday when I started to feel a bit sickish that I wouldn’t even mind getting sick for my own sake (I would be worried for my Grandma though.)

Where is this less-materialistc, depressing, passive view on Christmas from? Is it that I’ve lost all of my joy in life or am I just growing up? Have I finally realized the true meaning of Christmas or is this simply a pattern in the grief of loosing Situ (my grandmother)?

I’d say that although I have grown up and while I do think about the true meaning of Christmas even more now, that the reason is Situ’s recent death. This is my first Christmas without her after all. Plus, everything that I seem to feel gloomy about has links to her. I didn’t feel like doing the Christmas baking because it made me think about her and how much she loved being in the kitchen. I don’t want any presents because it reminds me of how she used to brag about how many presents she was giving me. I didn’t care about getting the tree or decorating it because I was consumed in my grief. I don’t feel like seeing family because it will remind me that she’s gone.

I guess there is some guilt too. Last Christmas, we were supposed to go to her apartment for Christmas dinner and my Uncle and Aunt and Grandfather were going to come out for the holiday as well. I remember how I really didn’t want to because I thought it would be tedious and boring (while I was extremely close to Situ, in general, I’ve always been closer to the other side of the family.) However, we didn’t get to do any of it anyways because she went into the hospital. So, my Uncle and Aunt and Grandfather cancelled their trips and we stopped in to visit Situ on the way to my mom’s family’s house. And instead of preparing a feast and spending Christmas day with her whole beloved family, Situ, my grandmother, was forced to lie in a cold hospital bed with short breads and Christmas cards for company.

Now, I know that none of this was my fault. In fact, Situ didn’t even know that I wasn’t excited about going to her place for Christmas. But for some reason I can’t stop feeling bad and wishing that we had our little Christmas party after all (I know that there was nothing I could have done about this anyway.)

A  Christmas with Situ.

Other Christmas memories with Situ stream my memory too. My mind goes off in a flurry of “Do you remembers?” whether I ask for it or not. Do you remember the year she gave you and Daragh the Santa hats and the three of you were matching on Christmas day? Do you remember the one time that you went to her apartment for Christmas with the rest of the family? Do you remember the year that she felt unwanted and went to a political function dinner instead? Do you remember the year that she gave you ten gifts, or was that twelve? Do you remember how she would phone you on Christmas day when she’d go to visit Uncle Buck and Aunty Rose? Do you remember how she used to alternate Christmases with them and then with you? Do you remember seeing her in the hospital last Christmas and bringing her the short breads? Do you remember when you hurt her feelings by saying that Grancha (your other Grandma) made the best pies? Do you remember the pie contest that you arranged but that didn’t work out? Do you remember the Christmas dresses? The one that was black with silver sequins on top? The one that you wore the Christmas you were eight? The Christmas that you were with her, the Christmas that you were happy…Do you remember? Do you remember? There are no more memories to come….

These things haunt me and sometimes I feel like crying when I remember that last part: there are no more memories to come. I try to be happy about Christmas, knowing that Situ would want that for me. But realizing that I won’t see her this Christmas, is harder than ever. Knowing that there will be no more fights about whose house we go to, no more Christmas day nights sleeping out on the couch, no more tension at the Christmas table does not help at all. Situ is still gone and she’s not coming back, even for Christmas. It’s ten times worse than when she went to the political function instead of to our house. Situ and Christmas are no longer entwined.

But even through my grief, I can hear God’s voice calling to me and saying “I came on Christmas. I came for you and I came for Situ too. I came so that you would not have to die but so that you could live in Heaven forever.” His voice is calm and comforting and it wipes away the tears for I know that because of the first Christmas gift, my grandmother lives in Heaven right now with no pain like she had last Christmas, no tension like she had when she’d spend Christmas with my mom’s side of the family, no spitefullness like she felt when she went to the political function and no hurt feelings like I gave her over the pie. Situ may be on this earth no more, and memories of her may be extinct but because of the virgin birth, because of a child born in a stable, because of Jesus Christ Situ no longer suffers and I will see her again one day.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord.’

Luke 2: 8-11

There, isn’t that the greatest news ever? Jesus came to save us! Jesus has come! Jesus is here and He will take care of us. Situ is home, safe and sound and to her that is the best Christmas present ever. And my best Christmas present is the one, not under the tree, but in my heart, the one wrapped with love and filled with hope…the blessed birth of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.