This is our 7th Christmas without Andrew. He is not here and he is everywhere. At times, his absence is the most present thing about him. For example, when I hear a song he liked or see someone who resembles him, or come upon something that I once gave him, I cannot help but remember him. That is the everywhere part. And tonight, when as the church musician, I open the music of the Christmas Eve anthem, his name will literally be written above the first note.
“Cue Andrew” is written there–because some years ago, he came home with his horn for Christmas and we worked him into this very song. (Being both the director and the dad gave me access to his incredible talent at special times for very affordable rates…although, as it turns out, I’d pay any rate to have him back to play.) But Andrew won’t be performing tonight and that is the part about his being not here. There will be another instrumentalist in his stead, labeled elsewhere on the page.
Through the years, I have written into (or erased from) my music myriad names. In some cases, I can read them layered above others that are erased but faintly visible. I have some musical scores wherein I can see in a glance a line of trumpet players going back thirty years. But nowhere and never once have I found myself erasing Andrew’s name. Nor will I, because I now hold on to my memories of him as precious.
And while I grieve a little harder at Christmas, I also take more comfort in knowing this: neither will God erase any of our names. Ever. Because the Maestro Creator and Loving Parent of Us All holds, keeps, and cherishes our names–every last one of them. We are near and dear to God and irreplaceable. And the take away of the Christmas story is that God is willing to pay any rate for us also.
So I will trust God to remember Andrew. I can think of no better place for us all to be than in the memory and loving heart of God in whom meet both the past and the future.
Therefore, comfort and joy, everybody. “Cue Andrew.”