06 January 2013

The end of an era

As I was last year in Canada over Christmas and New Year's, at home with family and coping with the death of my mother, one would expect that this greatly overshadowed my holidays this year. And it did, although not entirely as might be expected. Advent was indeed a time of remembering and sadness. It was a time for longing for an end to sickness and death, including the pain that many of us have felt on account of the death of my mother.

At the same time, the arrival of Christmas was a time of thankfulness for me. Christmas is a feast of joy and hope - and a celebration that Christ has come and is coming again and the world will be new, which means no more suffering and death! At the same time, I was also thankful that this was no longer the first Christmas without her. It was strange, but we - especially my family back in Canada - have made it through a year of holidays without her, and it her absence has become much less overwhelming.

As the New Year came, I was thankful that this year was not accompanied by having part of my world/life be turned upside down. After several years of being away, I also got to spend New Years back in the midst of the crazy fireworks of Amsterdam - after getting to end the year with a service in chapel. I've also had time and energy to think and hope for next year, but also reflect on this past year. With a year having past since my mother's death, it feels like the end of an era. We still miss her. Her presence in the family, her love for us, her being there for each of us and doing her best to bring us together - these things are all gone. But we are getting used to them, and I expect this year to be less hard, especially for my father.

At the same time, when I look back I am thankful for the good I have seen this year. We have been family for each other. We have all gotten to know my father better and be surprised by what we are capable of, especially my dad. I am also thankful that my has made it through this very hard year - something last year he'd hoped for and had a hard time imagining how it could be good. And yet, seeing how much Dad is involved in his relationship with his grandchildren and many others - in the church and with family - I cannot help but see that this year, in its own strange way, has also been at times good, for which I am thankful.

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