We all seek comfort from time to time, and we all look for it in our own way. Some use food favorites from their childhood, such as meatloaf, mac and cheese, or mom’s tuna noodle casserole. Religion can bring comfort to those who are grieving or lonely. Comfort can be found under an afghan, sitting in front of a warm fire with a favorite book and a glass of wine. Some people prefer to be alone, while others seek out friends. In this holiday season, many of us will find comfort in our traditions: the friends and family with whom we surround ourselves, a special meal, or that pie/cookie recipe only grandma seems to get just right.
After the horrific events in Paris last week we all watched the news footage of Parisians gathering at candle lit memorials, laying flowers, singing, and saying prayers for those they…we…lost. Some of them were loved ones of the dead, others complete strangers who felt the loss as if they were dear friends. Some people cried while others got angry and demanded to know what we were going to do to stop the terror. People all over the world cried or prayed or shouted with them.
My heroine, Mary Bishop, keeps a box of cherished mementos under her bed. Things that remind her of all the people she has lost in her life. There’s a swatch of blue cloth from her wedding dress and the little white baptismal gown worn by both her children. There are two packs of letters. One contains the letters her son Ander wrote to her during the war and includes both the note he left her when he ran off with his friend Robert to enlist in the Confederate army and the letter his commanding officer wrote her to tell of her son’s brave death at Gettysburg. The second pack is the letters she wrote to him, claimed by Robert so they could be returned to her. Also in the box are three tarnished cases, each containing a daguerreotype: Mary’s wedding picture with her family all gathered around the happy couple; four-year-old Ander sitting beside his dead baby sister, Lillian, laid out for burial; Ander and Robert in their new Confederate uniforms off to fight what they believed would be a brief and victorious war. All these loved ones are now gone from her life, held close with these few small trinkets she can look at and hold when she needs to feel them with her.
How will you find comfort through the holidays and after in these trying times? Me, I’ll find it in a combination of everything above: favorite foods, good wine, friends, family, and my belief in a loving God. We’ll remember those now gone with stories, both laughter and tears, but we will remember them.