When Awful Things Happen at Christmas

Sometimes really awful things happen – and sometimes they happen when you’re doing something that’s supposed to be a happy thing, and sometimes they happen at Christmas. And I’m trying to find something profound and wise to say about that – and, at the moment, I’m coming up nada. But here’s a poem:

We see each other – my old friend and me –
in the aisle that takes you to paints, plants,
toys, and clothes, in-between cosmetics
and Christmas decorations – and we reach
out to hug each other as we say, “Merry
Christmas!” and somehow as the last
syllable comes out of our mouths we find
we’re both crying – tears pouring out of our
eyes and she asks, “Are you alright?!”
“Something horrible happened last night…”
“What about you?” “She won’t be home
for Christmas this year…”And we stand
in Fred Meyer’s supermarket, my friend and
I, sobbing together and hugging, and I say,
“You were the exactly right person I needed
to see here!” And she says, “You were the
person I needed to see here!” And we give
each other one more hug and another
“Merry Christmas!” as we part.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell


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