In My Next Life I’m Living Near Family

I wrote this blog post a week before Christmas. I merely had to add photos in the morning and press publish. Instead my reliable Mac crashed, and I lost a day trying to get it up and running (shout out to the Apple phone support, which worked with me for more than an hour, and the Apple store Genius Bar, which returned it back to factory settings —all for free for my 5+ year old computer). And I lost three weeks worth of work, email, financial records, etc. I’ve spent the last several days trying to reconstruct everything that I could. So I know Christmas is past, but I still want to share this post with you all. Hoping your Christmas was merry and bright.

Christmas Eve 1961 on Long Island

It’s coming on Christmas and Facebook posts are chock full of photos of family gatherings—cookie baking, trips to see the lights or that holiday show, children’s holiday concerts, and times just hanging out at Grandma’s.

And our nearest family is 5 hours away. We did see some of these relatives on Les’s side for Thanksgiving. Now we won’t see them for another year.

Christmas with Cools in upstate New York, perhaps 1994

Our daughter and grandson are 10 hours away in Tennessee. My brothers and their families are in Texas, New Hampshire and Florida. Les’s brother is in Minnesota.

I’m struggling this year.

You would think I’d be used to it by now. We’ve always lived far from family. Even when I was a kid our extended family was all in New England. We packed up the station wagon every December to trek north for the holidays.

My cousins and their families are still in New England, and while we are close in our love, it means Les and I have missed most of the important family events. Weekend trips are a bit dicey for a minister. I’ve attended some funerals alone, but we’ve missed some others and almost all the weddings.

Christmas 1962 in Brockton, Massachusetts

As we get older, as some of us get sicker, I find myself craving those family times. In some ways Facebook helps. I read the posts. I know what my cousins’ grandkids look like. I see the photos from my nieces’ college trips. I hear about the good times together.

But in some ways it makes it tougher because I’m more aware of what I’m missing. It’s no longer out of sight, out of mind.

I was feeling sorry for myself earlier this week—not feeling lonely since we will spend Christmas with two different families of friends—but just missing what never was.

Ladre family Christmas in Methuen, Massachusetts, in 1965

Our grandson doesn’t really have much of a relationship with us, at least not in a way that’s created deep connections. There are few memories of time spent together. Our nieces and nephews have others they call Aunt and Uncle, people they would likely turn to long before us because they actually know them.

As I reflected on it all, I mumbled, “In my next life I’m living near family.”

Photo by George Hiles on Unsplash

Then it occurred to me that I would be.

My next life is the new one I’ll experience in heaven with God, and I’ll be right there in the middle of the biggest family reunion ever. A never-ending reunion, with no getting on each other’s nerves after a couple of days. I won’t miss anything.

It made me smile.

Christmas is still going to be tough for me this year. Maybe for you too.

But the promise of Christmas is “God with us.” And because of that, there is something more. Someday family won’t be far away.

6 thoughts on “In My Next Life I’m Living Near Family”

  1. First Christmas without my step-daughter who has chosen to cut us out of her life because of her mental illness. It’s tough.
    I like your last line: Someday family won’t be far away.

    • Wow, that does make for a very difficult and sad Christmas. Hope you were able to find joy in the moments and can cling to that. Thank you for sharing this disappointment with me.

  2. Oh Carol! I was having a pity party myself because we haven’t shared a Christmas with our only son in over 4 years, but then I realized that my husband and I have a role to make dinner for our parents (my Mom and Dad and my husband’s Mom) until they are no longer with us. So Skyping will have to do for the major holidays and I’m just thankful we are all healthy! Happy New Year Carol!! Vali


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