Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Letter

Neither Ellie nor I are fans of the annual Christmas letter, preferring to send cards with hand-written ( in fountain pen, of course ) notes. Our year, however, has been very untypical and we felt it deserved to be told as a story. I share our Christmas letter.

The end of 2015 is coming. Even without Pope Francis’s visit, his Family Synod, and ISIS’s terror, it has been an auspicious year for Ellie and me. It began with Ellie’s living full-time with our dearest friend Loretta, who had been battling cancer since her surgery in 2011. By last December it became evident that Loretta could no longer manage her meds. Ellie’s help, which had been frequent, became full-time. Little did we know what that would ultimately mean.

As Loretta’s ability to cope declined, I spent more time with them, retreating from more and more of my discretionary activities and many required household duties.

In home hospice from the beginning of the year, Loretta moved to the hospice facility on July 22. Although Loretta wanted to die at home, her pain forced her to the facility, where she died peacefully on August 10. Ellie was alone with her.

The experience has been both a blessing and a cross for everyone. Ellie and Loretta deepened their spiritual bond, I learned much about myself, and Loretta about letting herself be taken care of. There were many people who came to see Loretta at the Hospice facility. They came with so much love, neither the room nor Loretta could contain it. Their overflowing love blessed us.

We arranged the funeral and burial, putting into motion the plan the two of them had conceived. The funeral was beautiful, all Loretta, and included a champagne toast at the lunch. We buried her a week later in a columbarium at the St John’s Abbey cemetery. Fifteen people drove the eighty miles to participate in the ritual.

In spite of the difficulties, Ellie feels profoundly blessed and privileged by Loretta’s allowing her into her life and by the trust Loretta placed in her. That trust continues, as Ellie is Loretta’s Personal Representative ( i.e., executor ), so has charge of caring for the estate as well as the cats. These cats are two elderly, spoiled cats, which Ellie promised to take care of … and which have proven to keep her – and us – at Loretta’s. She continues to live there and I spend the huge bulk of my discretionary time with her there. Our plan is to adopt the cats as we bring closure to Loretta’s earthly life and as Ellie moves home. ( By the time you read this, she may be home. )

The estate project continues. Until that is further along, it will continue to “matter most” to both of us. Please pray for us as we will surely pray for you.

In spite of challenges and difficulties, we cling to the joy of the Gospel ( “All will be well; all will be well.” Julian of Norwich ) and wish you and yours a Christmas and Christmas Season that is Holy and joy-filled, and a 2016 that is filled with love, wonder and awe.


If you would like to comment but don't care to use the comment field, send an email to I would enjoy hearing from you.

No comments:

Post a Comment