Once a month, our church invites kids to spend their Sunday afternoon completing a community service project. This year, A. is old enough to participate. With his brothers off raking leaves, he and I head over to find out what today’s project is.
The organizers pass out large white candles and handfuls of miniature gold pushpins. Each child is given simple directions to decorate their candle which will be given to someone in the congregation who lost a loved one this year. The idea is each candle will be lit throughout the holiday season to remember and honor the one who passed.
I think it’s a lovely gesture and a wonderful way to teach children that simply because someone isn’t physically with us they still can live in our hearts.
Chaz lost his mother over twenty years ago. Months after exchanging our vows he turned to me at dinner and said, “I never got to dance with my mom at our wedding.” The comment was so unexpected. We hadn’t been talking about her. I don’t even remember talking about our wedding.
It made me realize that the grief of losing his mother was always just below the surface of our lives and able to show its heartbreaking face at the most unexpected moments.
Big life events and holidays are especially hard. I know he ached for his mom at the birth of each of our three children. Would love to have shared with her news of that big promotion at work. Would love for her to watch the boys rush down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Santa left under the tree.
Would love for her to see the man he’s grown to be. But that’s not possible.
“Do you like it?” A. asks holding up his candle for me to see. He’s arranged the pushpins into a smiling face. I imagine the person who receives this gift crafted with the purest intentions.
“I think it will make someone very happy,” I say.
So for all those who will receive a candle decorated by these kids, may your light burn bright. May its glow heal your heart.