12 years ago, on August 25th, my husband died. I became a widow. My children lost their father. As my husband declined, and his cancer overpowered his body, we were surrounded with a continuous flow of Love and Mercy. God worked in our lives through all those who surrounded us with love, and, literally, light. Our lives were completely changed. Many of our dreams died that morning. A hawk circled above our home.
My son posted his thoughts yesterday on Facebook, as he remembered the time leading up to my husband’s death. He allowed me to post his thoughts on my blog. It’s a little bit long, but he expresses the kindnesses we felt that day.
As I said earlier I’ve been going through a lot of photos this week. Not going to lie, it’s a tough week for me. Around this time 12 years ago my dad was ailing in hospice care. I’m not posting this to be a Debbie Downer. Maybe it’s because I’m usually closed up and private, and sharing this is somehow oddly therapeutic for me. I think mostly it’s because of going through the tough times I’ve found that if you look hard enough, there is good to be found in even the worst of times; sometimes you have to look very hard for it, sometimes it’s right in front of you. Trust me, I’ve seen it. Not just in this story I’m about to tell you but in many other instances too.
The small paper lanterns you see in all of these photos are called luminarias. Consulting Wikipedia (yeah, I know how that sounds), luminarias are traditionally used in New Mexico and the southwest United States at Christmas Eve, lining driveways and walkways. The Roman Catholic tradition is used to symbolize a walkway that will guide the Christ child into your home. The luminarias are simple to make, consisting of a brown paper bag, sand at the bottom, and a candle. (There are other traditions and uses for them but you can Google that if you want to read about them further). Every Christmas Eve, my mom, and most recently my mom and sister would line the driveway with these luminarias.
As my dad’s health began to fail, my mom began to line our driveway with the luminarias at night. Being that Minnesota is quite aways away from the SW part of the US, our neighbor asked about the luminarias in our driveway. Everyone in the neighborhood knew of my dad’s failing health but no one had heard of a luminaria before. They were told the story you just read above (if you’re still with me at this point). The next thing we knew, all of our neighbors began to set out luminarias too.
I don’t have words to describe the overwhelming feeling of support, love, solidarity, and community, that came along with this simple gesture by the neighborhood. Even in this dark time for my family, our neighbor’s literally provided a shining light for us.
God is sometimes silent as He moves in our lives. 12 years ago, He was silent, but He brought us the gift of light. When my husband died, he left this earth surrounded by love and the light of love.