There is no way around it: this Advent is a dark time for me and many in my family, having just lost our beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Yet, that's what the candles of Advent are for: they remind us that there is always Light. That Light is Christ, and He makes Himself known to us in many ways.
In my last post, I mentioned that we experienced many miracles as we spent time with my dying mother. Here is just one.
After being released from the hospital, we moved Mom to a nursing home, and she was placed in hospice care. For the first 6 or 7 days, my sisters and I were with her 24/7, in shifts. When they had to leave, my brother helped fill in.
The nursing home staff was remarkable. They excelled at Mom's care. They called her by name every time they came in the room. They gently bathed her. They apologized for causing her discomfort whenever they had to move her to prevent bedsores. They truly cared for her, and for that I'm eternally grateful.
Beyond that, they took care of US. They brought in a small serving cart from the kitchen, and kept it stocked with hot water for tea, coffee, and snacks, which they replenished daily. They did everything they could to make us comfortable, with encouraging words, a hug, a smile.
About the third day or so before Mom died, two of the aides came into the room rolling a large recliner. They explained that it had belonged to a former resident. It didn't recline anymore, they apologized, but they had covered it with a clean sheet, and said they thought it would be more comfortable than the hard, straight back chairs we'd been using.
I very nearly wept.
That non-reclining recliner was soft and large enough to curl up in. It meant my strained neck and back could relax. I actually napped well for the first time in weeks.
The folks who work in nursing homes don't get paid much, in the scheme of things. Many of the residents can't thank them, due to dementia. Some of the residents are difficult to manage and care for. The staff has to move people, straining their own backs while being on their feet for 12-hour shifts. It's a hard and often thankless job.
I expected that they would take care of my mom, but they also took care of me and my siblings. They didn't have to. But they were lights in my Advent, bearing tea and a broken recliner.
Christ shows Himself in the most unexpected ways.