While I was with St. Columba’s Parish, Miri, Advent was the season people got excited over. Did you know that entering Advent means entering a new Liturgical/Church Calendar? After Advent comes Christmas – both day and season.
But Advent or no Advent, life goes on for us. Some times in Advent we see people who lost their loved ones. Naturally, the family would make the usual remark, “We aren’t celebrating Christmas this year.”
True, Christmas is meant to be joyful. But not as joyful as commercialisation depicts it. It is not about spending lavishly and pouring gifts. It isn’t about the parties and the binges. Far from it are the open houses and dinners. Naturally these “fun” activities goes against our emotions when we are grieving. Frankly for me, I haven’t stopped grieving.
It was in Advent 2012 my mother was admitted into the Critical Care Unit (CCU) of Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya. She needed the oxygen supply the normal hospital rooms could not offer. My brother and I cleared her hospital room as she was sent to the CCU. Memories of the day and details have been suppressed. All I remember was the sadness that we felt. The nurse reassured us all will be alright – even though we knew where this was going.
A few days later, we took the time to go to St. Mary’s Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur, for a service. Instinctively we all prayed for her speedy recovery. I know I prayed for a miracle. In among the last conversations I had with my Mom, she asked about miracles. To the best of my ability, I said miracles are possible.
“You are a miracle,” I told her.
And to me, she is a miracle. A God-sent miracle.
She has left the suffering and sadness of this world just as the eighth day of 2013 was wrapping up.
Personally I feel like she purposely wants that number eight. She was a Feng Shui enthusiast! Her own sense of humour at work.
Something else also scared me about that day. When I left Miri, my uncle and mentor, Fr. Alfred, passed me a book. A gift to my mother from him, Aunty Monica and Timothy. She begun reading it herself weeks before her admission into the CCU. When she couldn’t read it herself, we read it to her. Taking turns, my brother, my uncle, her widower and I. That afternoon, we read to her the final chapter.
Fast forward to almost a year later, I admit are not as rosy. Relationships deteriorated and destroyed. Hearts are broken. Brothers and sister separated. My miracle isn’t here. That’s why I am so tempted to say, “I don’t plan to celebrate Christmas this year. Still grieving.”
I will shy away from the festivities and merrymaking. There are too many plans and memories surrounding the season. For me: not yet.
But here’s the thing: Christmas itself is a gift. A gift to all humankind. A divine gift of God’s love for all His creation. Concurrently it is a personal gift. A gift of friendship. A gift of agape. A gift of hop, joy and peace.
Through Christ Christ, Mommy found her strength. Not just during her fight with cancer. Because of her deep relationship with God, she was able to be that God-sent miracle:
And, above all, to Femke – her daughter.
Rest in peace, Mommy.