This Advent Letter to Those We’ve Lost is written by Andi Cumbo-Floyd. One of my great regrets in life is that her mother died of cancer before I could meet her. She passed away on Thanksgiving Day, 2010.
Here is Andi’s letter to her:
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This morning, I found out that we are, yet again, not pregnant. . . and all I want to do is turn on the Christmas tree lights, sit beside you, and hear you tell me about when you were surprised to find out you were pregnant. I want to ask your advice about our journey. I want to get some of the comfort you gave out like breath.
But you are not here . . . still and again. . . and it is the third Sunday of Advent, and I cannot help but sit heavy with sadness – grief, once it comes in, shades everything a little more charcoal. The white Christmas lights that I insist on because you taught me their beautiful simplicity. The jigsaw puzzle of Santa that I am putting together SO slowly, doing the straight-edges first as you taught me. The journal that sits next to your Bible, the one I read every morning. All of these things carry both the light and the shadow of your existence.
In this season of waiting – for babies both eternal and mortal – I miss you. I miss your laugh – the way it filled a room with its joy. I miss your wisdom, doled out in tiny measure over stories with coffee on our pj-clad mornings when I came home as an adult. But this time of year, I miss your music most.
When you sat at the piano, a dust of glory shown around you. Your whole body moved behind your fingers, beauty streaming forth, praise to the God you trusted –with strenuous commitment and a whole bevy of doubt – glowing into the whole room like frankincense.
Oh, there is worship even in memory.
Remember that year you wrote that Christmas cantata from the perspective of “the least of these.” How you took to heart God’s choice to send Jesus as an infant and pushed us all to see that when we are on the bottom, we sometimes see the glory best? That was my favorite Christmas program you ever did.
This morning, I feel a bit on the bottom, and yet, you taught me that when you’re really low-down, the best thing to do is look up and give yourself over to the work that lets you shine. For me, Mama, that’s words . . . and I can only pray that when I write them well, a little of that glory dust spills out and shines up the room as your music did.
I love you, Mama. I can’t wait to see you again. Merry Christmas!
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Andi Cumbo-Floyd is writer, editor, and writing teacher who lives on the 15-acre God’s Whisper Farm that she and her husband own at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They are building a place of respite, relaxation, and renewal for all people, particularly writers and musicians.
Her books include God’s Whisper Manifesto and The Slaves Have Names: Ancestors of my Home.
You can read more of her work and find out about their farm at www.andilit.com.
Previous Advent Letters to Those We’ve Lost:
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.
3 Replies to “The Dust of Glory”
Thanks for featuring her, Shawn!
Andi, what a gift this is to your mom and to anyone reading. I love the whole paragraph that begins: When you sat at the piano, a dust of glory shown around you. …Gorgeously written.
Thank you so much, Amanda. . . it’s taken me 5 years to capture even a sprinkle of what her music was in the world. I’m so honored you saw that.
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