I’ve got the pictures of Ken and Dad and Jan Davis when they were babies hanging in our hallway. The kids ask, from time to time, for me to point out who’s who. We go down the row, “That’s Ken III; that’s Jan Davis; that’s Mo.” They know Ken III, and they know Dad. They ask me to remind them about Jan Davis. “He was Ken and Mo’s brother. He was killed in a car wreck when he was only 2 1/2 years old. Ken III was in the wreck with him and so were other people in our family. It was very, very sad. But Mo hadn’t been born yet, so he never knew him.”
With Grandaddy and Granny gone, Ken is the one left to remember him and answer questions about him for us. When we went through Granny’s house several years ago, there was a small stack of pictures of Jan Davis and his Christmas stocking. They went to Ken because, again, he was the only one left in the family who knew him. There was no spouse to keep those things; there were no children to pass them down to. And I remember looking at those pictures of that little baby and being so deeply saddened and promising him in my heart, “I won’t let you be forgotten little guy. Even though I never got to know you, I will tell the younger generation in our family who you were. I’ll tell them what little we know about you, and we will keep your short life here on earth alive in our hearts.”
I have thought that about Jen from time to time. When Mom and Dad are gone, Lindsey and I will be left to keep her memory alive. We will get her stocking and her baby pictures, her keepsakes from elementary and high school and college that she tucked away in a little box. And I will pray that when I’m gone, my kids will look at pictures of her and promise her in their hearts, “I won’t let you be forgotten little girl. You were special. My mom said you were, and she loved you so much and missed you so much and wanted us to know you so bad. We will tell the younger generation about you. We will keep your short life here on earth alive in our hearts.”
Just as the grief does not subside, nor does the hope. They are inseparable. For me, there is not one without the other. So as filled with stinging grief as this Christmas season is, it is just as filled with hope. .... All because of that little Baby who came and died an early death, without spouse or children to pass along keepsakes to (had he had any)... BUT, what he did have was a host of ragtag followers that He used (and is still using!) to take the memory of his short life’s work and words across the globe, spreading the message of hope and redemption and salvation to the far corners of the world .... lighting up this dark, dark world.
Keeping the memory alive, isn’t that what this season is all about?