My husband, Gordon, died in a major airline crash in l977. He was only 33-years-old. We had two small children and a wonderful life. One day he was there and the next we were planning a funeral. Someone told me it was like going through major surgery. I might have looked okay, but I wasn’t. How did I carry on? I read grief books on the stages of grief to learn what I was going through, leaned on my faith as a Christian, cared for my children and let family and friends help.
The first Christmas we had moved to be closer to family. New family traditions developed. Both grandfathers took my children into the woods to select and cut the best Christmas tree ever. We openly talked about Gordon and what he loved about Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we attended church at midnight in a small little church in the country. Later my children played their instruments at the service. Then the three of us, Will, Meredith and I, came back to our house to read the Christmas Story by candlelight. Each chose one gift to unwrap before going to bed. We laughed and enjoyed our tree as we talked about the Christmas Story. The gifts grew during the night and Will and Meredith started again unwrapping. Then it was off to the Grandparents’ houses for visits with family.
There were many tears that first year and years to come. But there was also the realization that Gordon was still with us.
Pam Coley, NC, lost her husband Gordon, 33, on Southern Airlines in Georgia on April 4, 1977