This past holiday season was marked by many things. It was the first holiday shared in the home of our son and his family, the first holiday season in 27 years in the Pacific Northwest, and the first Christmas in decades celebrated in our own home. It was also a rare, but gorgeous, white Christmas in the Seattle area.
And yet for all these firsts, I’ve found myself nostalgic in remembering family and friends who are no longer here, who I’d like to tell how much I cared about them and how important and valued they were.
- What might have said must be left unsaid,
- Unfinished conversations must remain unfinished,
- Tangled feelings remain twisting in time.
So when I received an open letter from a high school classmate addressed to another classmate it came as a kind of sign from God. The letter was simple and direct and reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas in addition to closing circles of friendship that have been left open too long.
Written by Brian Losh to Tucker McHugh, it reads:
It was Christmas Eve 1978. I had returned from Christmas Eve dinner. I had put my son Casey (6) and daughter Andrea (3) to bed.
I was sitting alone in the living room looking at the the Christmas tree. It was my darkest hour, the lowest point in my life. Just five months before, my wife Therese was killed by a drunk driver.
At 11 pm the phone began to ring. Wondering who it was, I answered. It was Tucker McHugh calling to say, “Brian we are thinking of you and want to wish you a Merry Christmas.” It was a simple and heartfelt message of concern at a much needed time. I thanked Tucker and we hung up.
Tucker was not my best friend and I didn’t see him with any regularity. He was my good friend and Seattle Prep classmate. This beautiful act of kindness helped me to not be afraid to seek out somebody who needs some hope at a hard time in their life. I will be forever grateful for Tucker’s call. I’m not sure if Tucker even remembers this five-minute conversation, but I will never forget it.
When I finished reading Brian’s letter to Marsha we both acknowledged it was not only a testimonial on friendship but the perfect Christmas message.
Over the next few days I thought how often I’ve refrained from making such a call in the belief that a bereaved friend wanted to be alone. The truth is the reason I don’t reach to others is that I’m afraid of expressing a feeling or timid about acknowledging the suffering of another. What I so easily forget is how much I want someone to care enough about me to say at the worst of times that I matter.
What Tucker did in calling Brian at 11 pm Christmas Eve, just about the time Santa was due to arrive, couldn’t have been better timed to provide emotional salve to a very open wound.
Recently Tucker and his wife Mimi sent me a heartfelt, encouraging email in response to one of my blog posts. It just happened to be a post over which I had labored for days. It had been hard to write for it required that I re-experience some very dark days, not unlike the dark days Brian was having on Christmas Eve 1978. The truth is when I send out a post I have no way of telling what impact it might have. So when I received the message from Tucker and Mimi it came to me as grace.
There is a lesson here. It’s never a mistake to reach out with an encouraging acknowledgement. It’s always the right time. Indeed, there will never be a better time than the moment at hand. Brian acknowledged that through Tucker’s action he, too, was left unafraid to reach out to someone else in need of hope at a particularly hard time.
Who of us has not been in Brian’s shoes at some time in our life when we would have given heaven and earth for a call like he received from Tucker?
So, go ahead, make a call. There’s not a better time.
Just a thought…
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