with barren arms stretching toward heaven,
silent witnesses to my grief,
gentle friends who say nothing,
but stand tall.
Christmas will come no matter what, they whisper,
though soldiers return home for the holidays wrapped in cedar,
and State Troopers bring news of an accident on the Interstate.
It will come as an elder dies alone,
an unpaid utility bill sitting on the kitchen table.
It will come as an ER doctor calls the “time of death,”
while carols are piped into the hospital cafeteria.
And, Christmas will come though someone I love
is dying a good “hospice death,”
blessing the world with each remaining breath,
creating still, a community,
from those who will rejoice for her as she flies free,
but will mourn for ourselves when she is gone.
I have never had such a Christmas,
never found myself in the company of the sorrowful,
for whom the possibility of a “Merry Christmas,” feels slim.
But we who grieve now are not alone.
We are connected by the thread of sadness,
by the sorrow that goes with the gift of loving well.
The One who will "wipe away every tear,"
needs no Advent invitation.
He has already come,
and is already, wherever we must go,
“God with us,”
Prince of peace,