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A Truly Special Experience

A Family Christmas
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A Family Christmas


The relationship with our beloved loved ones is sacred and special. We need to cherish, love, and embrace every moment we get to spend together. We need to love them, call them, talk to them, and pray for them each and every day. Cause we never know when we will lose them.

Sometimes we can lose them suddenly and sometimes we don’t even get to give them a proper goodbye. This very moment occurred over the holidays for my brother Bryan’s family. Bryan and Deana have four children: Grady (15), Ean (14), Emmaline (12) and Declan (6).

Right before Christmas, Bryan’s wife, my sister-in-law Deana suddenly lost her mother Julie. Julie was living in Long Island in an apartment with her son, Deana’s brother Rob. Rob came home and found her dead in the apartment.

Bryan and Deana had recently seen Julie for Thanksgiving. Julie then traveled to South Carolina to see family. God probably let Julie go on the trip to South Carolina and enjoy herself as her final trip before he called her home.

Julie probably knew in her heart that once she returned home from South Carolina, she was ready to go home to heaven.

My parents and I were already traveling north for a friend’s wedding in Long Island and were planning to have an early Christmas with my brother’s family in New Jersey, however our journey took a different turn.

A couple days after the wedding, we had to return to Long Island for the wake for Deana’s mother Julie.

It was then that God spoke to me, and I felt it was important for us to stay in New Jersey for Christmas so that Deana and my niece and nephews would not be alone and lonely at Christmas after the loss of Julie.

We got a fortunate break because our good friends, the Carlson’s who had relocated from Massachusetts to Park West in Brunswick Forest in Leland, North Carolina had elected not to travel north for Christmas.

Thus, I knew they would be available to watch our dog Finn for the remainder of our trip. Here is the conservation I had with our friend Sandy:

“Hi Sandy, this is your friend Brendan. You are going to love this. Nobody knows this yet. I was able to book us a hotel up here in Park Ridge starting tomorrow (Thursday 12/21)-Tuesday 12/26) so we can stay for Christmas. So, you guys will have Finn from tomorrow (Thursday 12/21-Wednesday 12/27). Let me know if there is a problem.

We are at Bryan’s house now. We are going to exchange presents today and say goodbye thinking today is the last day. I am going to surprise Mom and Dad later tonight when we get back to the hotel. Then we’ll surprise the kids in another day or two.

I love the idea of surprise especially at Christmas.

I purposely wanted to do this so we could be together after Deana’s Mom died. It will be so special. Again, let me know if there are any problems. Enjoy your holiday.”

Sandy- “I’m so excited for you all. You are awesome, that made my day. Tell your parents it is all set with us, and we think they have the best son.”

Brendan- “That’s great thank you.”

Brendan- “They’re totally surprised. They love it and keep laughing.”

Sandy- “So happy you did that.”

I hope you enjoyed reading our conversation as it showed how strong a heart I have. There was no way I wanted them to be alone at Christmas after suffering such heartbreak. I wanted to give them something to smile about and be happy about for Christmas.

God speaks to us in many ways. We were meant to spend Christmas together and it shows the power of love, family, togetherness, and compassion.

God watches over us at all times. There was a special spiritual power that kept our family together at Christmas.

Julie is up there with God now and perhaps this was what she wanted for her daughter and her grandchildren, by divine intervention that on such a happy holiday, they got the best present ever, to have all our family together.


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About the Contributor
Brendan Connelly
Brendan Connelly, Contributing Writer
Brendan Connelly is a contributing writer for Cape Fear Voices.

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