Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas Condolences?

I remember the consternation of a friend of mine whose father died suddenly of a heart attack just days before her wedding. Friends arrived at the house with a wedding gift in one hand and a copy of her father’s obituary in the other. It seemed awful beyond words, completely incongruous to her, for such opposite events and conflicting emotions to sit side-by-side in her life.

It has been a lot like that for us this December—not just the fact that Christmas cards arriving at our house this year have notes of condolence appended to the bottom, but also the fact that before the Christmas decorations came down and got packed away for another year, we gathered in Dallas with family and friends for Kelly’s funeral. Right next to the glittering Christmas tree Karen decorated in anticipation of Kelly’s safe return, we wept and held each other close—aching together over the husband, father, brother, son, and friend we lost on the mountain. It’s difficult to fit that scene together with the joyous festivities we usually associate with Christmas.

Then again, perhaps this is the most fitting way of all to celebrate the birth of Jesus—with a profound awareness of our own brokenness and a fresh recognition of our desperate need for the rescue operation God mounted when He sent His Son to earth. Maybe the pain and disappointments so many carry in their hearts will serve to remind us all that we actually need the Child who was born two thousand years ago. We hope Kelly’s life and death have brought that message of hope to many—a hope that outlives the disappointments and tragedies of this world and refuses to let death have the last word.

We are grateful for those notes so many have written online and on cards. Thanks to those who attended Tuesday evening's visitation and uplifted us with your loving support and the stories you told of your friendships with Kelly. Our hearts were comforted by those who attended the funeral and shared both in our loss as well as in our hope that we will see Kelly again. We know we aren't the only ones who will miss him.

Please continue to hold up the members of our family, especially Karen, the four James’ kids, Jason, Ford, Katie, and Jack, Kelly’s mom, LouAnn, and his four siblings, Frank, Fred, Ben and Traci. The days ahead won't be easy for any of them. We also ask you to continue to pray for the families of Brian and Nikko with whom we share the lack of closure on this ordeal.

With hope in the Christ Child,

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
—Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

1 comment:

Heather said...

Dear Mrs. James,
Please know that our hearts and prayers are with you. Your husband was a wonderful support when my husbands best friend died in March. When you return to the Orlando area, please do not hesitate to call us if you need anything. We will continue to lift you up in our prayers.
God bless you all!
Heather Dornan