Our Most Difficult Christmas

January 15, 2010

It was sixteen years ago but memories linger on. Jeff Cottingham was the most kind and loving person I had ever met. His friends called him J. C. He attended Catholic mass at his church weekdays and worshiped at our Lutheran church on Sundays. He loved children and worked with juvenile delinquents in a neighboring city. J. C. married our youngest daughter Rhea one beautiful summer day and within a few years they had two children, a girl and a boy, who were the joy of his life.

Four years after they were married, J. C. developed cancer and eventually had to undergo surgery to remove a large part of his stomach. The cancer was slowed but didn’t stop and J. C. soon needed chemotherapy. Rhea took him to a specialist in a hospital some distance from our home and the first treatment went well. The second treatment a month later did not go well and after twelve days of uncertainty, J.C. died. It was two days before Christmas.

It is traditional for Rhoda and me to have our daughters and their families for dinner on Christmas Eve. That Christmas Eve was a tear filled experience for all of us. Why did such a loving man have to die so young? We were reminded that another J.C. died as a young man nearly two thousand years earlier, a man whose birth is celebrated at Christmas and whose life changed the course of history. Christ’s Team surrounded our family with love that Christmas and helped heal our wounds.

Peace is found in prayer
Robert C. Frank