The Christmas cards that my family is sending out for Christmas 2012 are in the mail. Whew! Roughly 120 - 130 cards addressed, stamped, stuffed (with a very short "newsletter" this year) for most of them (wife 2.0 may not have stuffed all of the cards that she sent out, but that is her prerogative) -- in the last few years I've put together and sent out a holiday newsletter that went in all of the cards I sent, going back to 2009, when wife 1.0 was killed in the car wreck in the middle of the summer. That year, sending the newsletter seemed a good way to tell friends and family, many of which I had addresses for compliments of the guest book at wife 1.0's funeral service, that my family (my kids and myself) were doing OK and that we were slowly but surely moving on with our lives. In 2010, I continued the tradition and covered some of the major happenings for my kids and myself. In 2011, the newsletter was used to spread the news of coupling of wife 2.0 and myself, and the blending of our families into a single unit.
This year, the newsletter was short and somewhat somber. It pretty much revolved around the losses that our families had experienced in the last year.
In my case, nearly a year ago now (in just a few days it will have been a year), my family experienced the loss of my brother. He was working on building a steeple to go on the small country church that his family were members of when he slipped and fell off the roof and fell into the box that was supposed to be base of the steeple (he was carrying it up onto the roof, working by himself, pushing it up the ladder). From a distance of all of about 12 feet up, he fell face first and crushed his skull on that box. Since he working by himself, we had no way of knowing for sure how long he lay on the ground bleeding, but even as he was transported to the hospital, things were not looking good.
My brother left behind a wife and two young children, the oldest (my niece) at the late pre-teen stage, his youngest (my nephew) still in the early elementary school stage. My now former sister-in-law (still a member of the family of course, I just include the former in there since she's widowed) was a person of strong faith, as was my brother. Their kids have been raised in a strong southern Baptist faith as well. That faith seems to be helping them get through their loss, but it has not been easy on my nephew and I know it hasn't been easy on my brother's widow either. No matter how much faith you have, you still are left questioning why things have happened and doubting a bit that your God is as merciful as you might wish.
On that merciful side, thankfully my brother didn't linger and didn't wind up basically brain-dead and a shell of his former self. He passed fairly quickly and hopefully what suffering he may have gone through was over by the time his wife and my parents were at the hospital to see him.
In wife 2.0's case, she lost a distant relative at about the same point that my brother was taken. I believe it was an uncle, but I don't recall for sure. Recent events and too much work over much of the last year have blurred that loss to me.
The recent events were the loss of my wife's mother. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in the spring of this past year, and sadly lost her battle with that just a few weeks ago. She put up the best fight she could, but she was diagnosed late and by the time the cancer she had was discovered, she already had cancer spreading to her brain and her bones. As a lifelong smoker, I wasn't surprised by her having lung cancer, though I was still sad to see someone that was obviously (as seen and evidenced in pictures that I got to see along the way) so vibrant losing a battle against cancer in such a heartbreaking obviously painful way.
Loss happens to us all, really it's just a matter of time. For some it comes early, for others later. Sometimes too often, other times it seems to drag on over the years (witness my former in-law's, wife 1.0's parents, who have lingered on and on, suffering as they are, but not succumbing to the grim reaper, at least not so far).
This year's newsletter was meant to remind people to take advantage of the limited time they have here on earth to share it with their loved ones. Enjoy the time you have while you can. Spend it trying to love one another rather than letting yourself get caught up in the greedy commercialism and exceedingly rushed and hurried lifestyle that so many seem to be living.