Advent is a time of waiting. Since the suicide of my oldest son Anthony, I feel like waiting is what my life is all about. I am waiting always in the hope that I will see Anthony again and that we will both be in the light of God’s face. That waiting is going to be an advent for the rest of my life.
One of the things I learned about grief is how deep the ache is to see your loved one’s face and/or to hear their voice. A few months after Anthony’s funeral I was out at his grave and the urge to dig with my hands just to see his face again was so strong. I had never felt that way with any other loss before but I had never lost a child whose face was a part of my daily life for twenty two years either.
In the middle of this grief is life. Which is also so much like Advent, where we wait for the birth of Jesus as we go to work, go to school, pack lunches, fill cars with gas and go to the grocery store for toilet paper. In the middle of waiting and longing and wishing for time to pass faster, we draw out the moments of joy and laughter as we wait for the day when all will be well. The blessed Mother knows what that wait is like. She lived her regular life as God grew in her womb. Everything so surreal, she was the mother of God but also so normal, she also had to cook dinner.
Advent is a time full of hope. Where anything is possible, even if we can only see bits and pieces of that possibility. I see Anthony’s children growing up, learning new things and going forward in life. They are growing up in ways that he would not even recognize them as they are now because kids grow fast and in the two and a half years that he has been gone his children have grown into different humans. That is beautiful to experience but also, heartbreaking because he should be here for all of this.
Yet, there is hope.
Hope does not have anything to do with the actions of us but everything to do with God’s actions. The action of Him coming down to live among us as a tiny baby, a little boy and then a grown man willing to hang on a Cross for us. It is in all of that that I have hope for Anthony and I to see each other again and for him to see his children again and get to know who they are. It is in that, the birth and life and death of Jesus, that I find the will to keep moving forward on the days when I would much rather just lay on my son’s grave and not get back up. Hope picks me up.
Hope keeps me going when I do not know what is coming. Surely more good days, more joy, more babies and more life is coming in the days and years ahead of me, but so is more death, more funerals and more grief. Because all of it is the package of life. All things are fleeting, joy and sadness, life and death. Anthony’s death has been a masterclass on how to live in the unknowing. It is by living in the hope that was born in the form of a baby who would grow into the God Man.
It is that hope that gets me through the sadness ,loneliness and feeling lost because that Hope is the light in the darkness that come during Advent. Advent happens in a season where the days grow shorter, there is more darkness and the nights by the fire are where we feel warmth. In life’s Advents the same holds true. There is more darkness here and God is the fire that keeps us warm when we sit close to Him.
Leticia Ochoa Adams is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in the suburbs of Austin Texas. She is a freelance writer who has articles at Aletheia and Our Sunday visitor and has contributed to books such as The Catholic Hipster Handbook and Surprised by Life. Leticia is also a regular on the Jen Fulwiler show on SiriusXM. Her website is leticiaoadams.com