It is a season of Noël, a word that comes to us from the Latin verb nasci, meaning “to be born.” This season is a time when believers commemorate the birth of Christ our savior, Yeshua Hamashiach, who the Greeks called Jesus of Nazareth. It is a time of joy, which is a gift from God. It is a season of celebration that though we are wretched and unworthy, the Creator of the universe loved us enough to send His Son into the world to testify to the truth and redeem us.
For the Bridgeman family, it is also a time to reflect, during quiet moments, on those joyful times we have spent with friends and family in the recent past. We ponder relationships, reminisce about happy moments shared, and are hopeful to make plans for the future.
This Christmas, we must do this in the midst of grief after, just weeks shy of his fifteenth year, tragically losing our baby boy, Johnathan Eugene Bridgeman—whom the world called Jeb. In so many ways, as the year concludes, we are hurting because even while we involve ourselves in the traditions of the season, Jeb is not able to join us here. As we light candles, bake a batch of gingerbread, hang ornaments, listen to the Annie Moses Band praising Christ in beautiful song, wrap gifts, or even sign this card to send you season’s greetings, we cannot help but feel the empty space—the reserved place—where Jeb should be.
The little things. The empty chair. The missing signature on the Christmas card. The gift we no longer need to wrap.
While our mourning this year has loomed large, the volume of kind thoughts, prayers, and sincere condolences we received since April felt overwhelming at times. In those moments when we most sharply felt the loss, the phone would ring, a card would come in the mail, an email would appear in the inbox. So, in our loss, we are so grateful and SO very thankful we have relationships with people like you. You are our loved ones, our beloved, those who we know with certainty we can count on to lift us up when we are down and to celebrate alongside us when we are triumphant.
During a time when a dear friend’s wife of many years was slowly leaving this world, Jeb advised our friend that “God is good… even when it sucks.” This was wisdom well beyond his years.
We are joyful that we can celebrate the birth of Christ – the Light of the world – alongside you this year and we are even more joyful that you and your families are celebrating alongside us in this season of Noël. We pray that you find joy and peace this season and in the coming year because what our late son said is profound. God really is good all the time and is worthy of all praise, even when it sucks.
Wishing you well today and every day in the coming year.