The doctors pulled his life support 3 days before Christmas. He died the following morning. I used to laugh when he called me — 11 years older than him — an “old man.” But now that memory stings. Gone at 31, he will never know 42, or how young it still feels most days. He had a problem with his liver. It is the price of a problem with the bottle. And we were close, just not close enough for me to see what was happening in him.
The priest performed the Rite of Commendation 3 days after Christmas. He flicked holy water and swung incense while we looked on, stock-still and grieving, from rigid pews. The sanctuary was still bright with the red of poinsettias and the hope of a nativity scene. “It doesn’t seem right to us,” the priest had said. And it wasn’t. These two things set so close together— a manger and a casket. Promise and departure.
It is a new year now, and time still moves, or maybe only we do. Last week, his own sister gave birth to a baby boy. And the child was given his name, to bear the word like a light into a day only it will see.