Each year, the parishioners of my church, Holy Comforter, contribute devotionals for the season of Advent. This is my contribution for 2010.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
When I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
December 3, 2010, is the seventeenth anniversary of the death of my sister-in-law, Ann Kiger Paredes. Ann died in her sleep of an undiagnosed genetic cardiac disorder, at the age of 30. She left behind a husband, a six year old son, a three year old daughter, and a six month old baby girl.
Christmas 1993 was not an easy holiday for our family. Ann’s coworker, Faith Bass, captured the feeling in her poem, “Is There Christmas in Heaven?” from which I have provided an excerpt:
Do you exchange gifts,
have parties and such,
or is your only wish to be mortal,
to feel your child’s touch?
Are you watching us from heaven?
Do you feel our grief?
Is living in heaven such a relief?
Ann’s children are young adults now. How I wish she could have been here among us over the past seventeen years, marveling in their growth and, yes, grumbling about the trials and tribulations of parenthood. For some reason, God gave us, her family, that gift. When I “hang out” with that nephew and those nieces whose world was so drastically shaken so long ago, I know Ann is with us when I see Zack’s “AEK” tattoo on his arm, when Logan says something that just has that “Ann” tone to it, and when Jordan still has that exuberant little sparkle in her eye she did as a youngster.
I still do not understand why Ann did not wake up before dawn on December 3, 1993. She awoke to the likeness of God. As you contemplate the gifts of Christmas, may you awaken to a Godly likeness with every moment.
The Kiger Siblings, 1991 (Ann is 2nd from the left)