Today, I celebrate the twenty-second anniversary of my mother’s death on Sunday morning December 20th, 1998. All members of my family including my father were present with her as she departed this world in the early morning.
I know she is with all of us today as we remember all she gave us, what she made of us. As Brendan Kennelly said of his mother in a poem entitled “Her Face”, she will be very well off if she has received the smallest portion of what she gave (paraphrase).
For a long, long time after her death there was a sense of the “presence of absence”. After twenty-two years I have become accustomed – to some extent – to her absence, but the sense of loss never quite goes away. There is a vacant spot none other can fill.
So today and during the next week I pray that God will bring fire and light into the lives of those for whom Christmas may not be a feast of joy but a time of darkness that stirs painful memories of those with whom they can no longer celebrate because of death, separation, divorce, or family quarrels. I will remember the friendless, homeless, the abused – for them Christmas may arouse bitter comparisons and regrets.