The candle lighting service began with a reading of the Compassionate Friends creed and the song "Light a Candle" by Paul Alexander. We then lit our candles and spent the hour taking turns sharing the name of our loved one and how our holidays and traditions might be done differently now. It was powerful to look around the room and see the glow of so many candle flames. There is comfort in shared sorrow because it is in sharing that we draw strength from one another and peace in knowing that there are those who will never tire of, nor be uncomfortable with, you speaking your child's name, no matter how long they've been gone. It was also very heart-warming to realize that as we blew out our candles the lighting continued elsewhere around the globe. The club no one wants to be a part of is so much bigger than I would have ever imagined.
Monday, of course, followed Sunday. I had impatiently been waiting weeks for Monday evening as several "grief" moms and I were meeting for dinner. We finished our weekly book group meetings a few months ago and hadn't gotten together since then. We managed to pick the next book by the end of dinner, but only after several hours of much laughter and tears. The restaurant was closing as we left, and I wished I had brought my camera to snap a picture of us. Who would have guessed that the lively four women at the table in the back of the restaurant shared in common the loss of a child?
We left the restaurant, each to our own vehicle, yet united in a camaraderie none of us could have fathomed a year ago. We all know getting through Christmas isn't going to be easy, but we also know we're not alone. We still wish with our whole being that we didn't have to run this marathon of child loss. Not a single one of us signed up for this club, yet each one of us has discovered that the lifetime membership comes with a pretty incredible support system.
This week turned out to be quite draining, emotionally. However, I am blessed. Blessed by the members of this club no one wants to be a part of, but also blessed by those that are not a part of it. God reminded me that we have so many friends and family that continue to support and pray for us. They may not be a part of the club, but they are on the sidelines urging us on, watching us run.
Hebrews 12:1-3 reminds me that I am to run this race with endurance, fixing my eyes on Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of my faith. He endured the cross because of the joy set before Him and I, too, have eternal joy set before me. Because of this, I will not grow weary or lose heart for long. I remember that God himself is a member of the club no one wants to be a part of.