The first holdiay season after Mattias died was the hardest. Not just because it was the first without him, but we lost him at the beginning of December.
I was still in shock. I remember standing at the checkout at Kohl’s with an ice cream maker we were buying for my daughter for Christmas when the checker asked, “How are you today?” I froze. He had no idea. He was just doing his job. He asked and had no idea how much he did not want to know the answer. But my little auto-play “fine” was broken. I had no answer. I wanted to scream, “My son is dead and I’m buying an ice cream maker!” But it wasn’t his fault, so I just shrugged. “Merry Christmas!” he said cheerfully as he finally handed me my purchase. I took a deep breath. “Merry Christmas to you, too.”
My tone wasn’t so cheerful. In fact, he looked startled. But I meant it, probably more than any other time I had wished somebody a Merry Christmas. I stood at the door, watching the mass of cars out for the holiday rush. The whole world was rushing buy and I hadn’t quite yet accepted that any kind of life went on after my son’s had ended. I wanted to scream at them all, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is utterly meaningless.” Except that all this was because of the birth of another baby. Sure, many of the people rushing about had no knowledge of that baby. Others had lost sight of Him. Some were distracted by the season. And yet . . . it is because of the birth of that baby boy that hope came down. And it is because of His death and resurrection that Mattias’ death on an operating table was not the end of his story.
I am thankful for the time we had with him. I am thankful for our memories. I am thankful that my children still count him when people ask how many brothers and sisters they have. I am thankful for a savior who grieves with us in our sorrows. And most of all, I am thankful that, because of his sacrifice, we have hope because death is not the end.
If you would like to listen more about being thankful through tragedy, Dr. Jay Wile gave an excellent sermon on what we can be truly thankful for. My little Mattias even makes a cameo appearance at the end, so I may be a tiny bit biased.