This Friday, March 27, will mark the 12th anniversary of the death of my firstborn, Christopher Michael Holland. He would be 31 years old now, would probably have settled down with the right woman and had some children of his own…if he were still here. His death, shortly before his high school graduation, was random and sudden–like so many of his actions and choices. We had a complicated relationship, and it is only now that I realize how similar we really were. No wonder we found each other exasperating!
His death turned my world upside down and everything I thought I knew evaporated into the blackness. To be sure, my life is full and satisfying, and one could argue that I would never have found my vocation as a priest had it not been for his death. But, in this dark time of the year, when the temps are cold and the mornings still shadowed, his anniversary date comes once more, pulling me into the hole he left behind. I would, even now, surrender every happiness I own to see him again, if only for awhile. This is the wound that will never heal, and although I can function well throughout the year, this week is always, always a journey into regret and pain, sorrow and unrelenting heartache. It is the price I pay for communion with one I loved so much and can never hold again.
Please hold me in your prayers and thoughts this week, particularly on the eve of his death, Thursday night. It is my personal Good Friday, and as with the family of Jesus on that first Good Friday, hope is in short supply.