Fred Duerson’s granddaughter, Imani Tuck, and her Hampton University Concert Choir singing “Close to Thee” in Washington, D.C.
My friend Gayle White is one of the smartest, most talented writers I know. She posted this on her Facebook page recently, for those of us who have lost loved ones. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my father, who succumbed to lung cancer in August. I miss his encouraging text messages which often included scriptures, I miss talking to him about politics, about sports, about the family we love so dear. I know my father was at peace with everything that happened to him in the last 18 months. He never stopped leading and ministering to his family, even as he faced a diagnosis of terminal cancer. We’ve lost other friends too, in the last two years — Bernard Charles McNair Jr., a dear friend and neighbor; Mable Jean Lockhart, our wonderful first lady; and Pauline Knight Ofosu, a wise, blessed woman. We remember them with warm thoughts at the holidays at and always.
Gayle’s post gave me hope, so I’m sharing it here.
A deeply personal message to my friends who have lost someone special since last Christmas: You may be absolutely miserable and feel stabbed a thousand times as big and small memories flow in. You have to get through Christmas just as you got through visitation, memorial service, and the rituals of death. Once you’ve made it, a major hurdle will be behind you. The Christmas day after Bob died was the worst day of my life, worse even than the day he died. The family tried to practice enough false merriment to propel us forward but the seconds dragged by. At the end of the day I felt as if I’d completed a huge obstacle course. Each year since then has become brighter and I truly love the story, the tree, the music, the anticipation, the generosity of the season. So, please know that you are in a valley right now but you will work your way out. And know that many people who have faced what you’re going through are thinking about and praying for you this year. With love, Gayle.
After Gayle posted her note, Mike King — another friend and former colleague, posted this response:
Exactly! Thanks for sharing. The light indeed returns, slowly, with subsequent holidays — especially when you are surrounded by your loved ones. But the first is indeed an endurance contest, despite the best efforts of friends and family. It WILL get better.