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Archive for the ‘A Belated Merry Christmas, Mary’ Category

Over the past several days of family Christmas celebration, there were moments when my daughter Mary could have been mentioned and wasn’t. There was a moment around the dining room table, for example, when we realized an extra place had been set unintentionally and no one suggested it might be a place for Mary, lost to suicide in 1995.

There was a Christmas mealtime blessing absent her name and a restaurant toast to the good times that did not include her.

My discomfort with those small silences is not a matter of thinking Mary needed either a place at the table or a Christmas blessing. She celebrates Christmas perpetually, I believe, and is with our family always in a good way.

It is also not a matter of thinking silence is somehow deficient. In my first years of grief for Mary, I couldn’t possibly have voiced my love and confusion at a family gathering. Any words suitable for a group setting would have fallen woefully short of the truth. That no one else tried to use words registered as a sign of solidarity and honor. Back then, we knew why we were keeping silent.

Now, I’m not so sure. Maybe we, and especially I, got so caught up in the excitement of Christmas–the big meal preparation, the house full of people, the flowers, the music, the table setting–that we failed to be intentional with regard to Mary. We, and especially I, failed to make the simplest move in Mary’s direction. Mentioning her name would not only have made her present to us, it also would have made Christmas more real and more joyful. Saying her name would not have been about remembrance only. It would have brought to our celebration a depth dimension and a light that shines in the dark.

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