This Advent Letter to Those We’ve Lost is written by Guy Delcambre to his wife who he lost five years ago.
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You may know this.
There were days I teetered close to death myself. I wished then that I were the one who’d gone away. Not you who held the words, which soothed their baby hearts so well, but me. Behind a fixed smile hung to protect all that died within me when you left. I couldn’t help but think they were fiercely cheated in life with me alone here on this side of time. I watched in horror as their eyes dimmed and the coloring sheets they made just for you, the ones meant to comfort you, to fill the room surrounding your hospital bed, fell to the ground. Helplessly I observed death snatch innocence right from their little hearts. They trembled for years. I stumbled for some. I know you may know this. But it helps to say it still.
You may be aware of them. My, how they’ve grown! Each slowly stretching into beautiful young ladies who I’m hoping will be strong women not stained by grief, but improved by its haunting presence returning through those years. I say improved not because loss is some sort of treasure. No certainly not. Rather, loss has introduced grief into our lives and grief is a graceful teacher to those who’ll learn. We’ve learned through tears and fights and wounds splitting open again to spill longing and fear onto the floor of the house we call home.
It’s Christmastime again. The fifth since you left this life. With each passing year, the season lightens a bit more in grief’s working to loosen the suffocating grasp of loss on our family. We remember you in stories and smiles. The girls soak in them both as they learn better that grief isn’t a taker, but in this way, a giver.
We have hope here in this time present.
You may see. There’s a woman who swept into our lives as an elegant breeze. She carries hope in the warm depths of her chest. She’s unbelievably strong in the way her heart loves and often undeniably oblivious to this strength of hers. I love her deeply. And, she is brave. Unflinchingly she strolled into our tattered lives ready to join in and belong here with us. The way she smiled, as though she could see our wounds and went right about dressing them so they could heal. It was almost as if she traveled in from tomorrow or knew a secret we hadn’t yet heard. Her love stirred my heart, and I awoke someone new.
There are days now so difficult, words I still don’t have to heal their hearts with, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but here now. I have something now I’ve never fully had before: hope. That’s one thing death couldn’t take. Hope is the day that never ages and calls us beyond our difficulties and ourselves. In only a way God could so reposition such a pain, I suppose this is the gift you give to us each year during this time.
You may know these things I’ve said. Still, it helps me to say them and to hold them. For the past five years since you’ve gone away have been the most beautiful to endure. I am happy and full.
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Guy Delcambre is the author of Earth and Sky, the story of a traveler walking through the deepest valley and the highest mountain, through great heartache and unexpected joy. It is not a book about grief, but a book about grace and the goodness of God in the darkest night.
Previous Advent Letters to Those We’ve Lost:
The Dust of Glory by Andi Cumbo-Floyd
This Should Be Your Second Christmas: I Wish You Were Still Here by Alise Chaffins
Dear Mom, I Have Your Christmas Cookie Cutters by Bethany Suckrow
Sometimes It Seems Like I Am the Ghost in the Room by Rebecca Mast
Advent Letters to Those We’ve Lost
Also, we’ve completed the first season of the podcast, The Story of My Death. Caleb Wilde, Bryan Allain, and I recorded three different episodes in which we interview people who tell compelling, intimate stories about death. Caleb tries to give away a Hearse. Bryan tries to make us laugh. The episodes are funny, sad, poignant, brave, and heartwarming. You can check out the first season of episodes HERE.