Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

December 23, 2013

Charles Romans: Tot comforted at Christmas: 12/24/13

ASHLAND — Christmas is a time when people at least make the attempt to reach out to others and show compassion, consideration and love to their fellow man.

It is a time, even with all of the commercialization of sales and frenzied last-minute shopping, when everyone tries to appreciate one another simply because of being part of the human race. We try to spread feelings of goodwill, cheer and brotherhood. All of these things are wonderful and help us to realize, at least one time a year, we are all part of the same extended family and we matter to others.

Tragedies such as the loss of a loved one, especially a child, can be more difficult to deal with around the Christmas season because we are grieving while others are joyful.

And when one child is grieving for the loss of another, tears take the place of cheer and the joy of the season can be dimmed.

Bentley Ferguson, 2, of Louisa, might be too young to understand why his brother is gone, but he understands he misses Braxton, who was only 3, and cries for him. Bentley’s mother, Diana Vance, has been forced to not only deal with her own grief, but also comfort her son and dry his tears while her own heart is broken.

But Christmas, more than any other time of the year, can also be a time of healing. Members of the community, who work throughout the year to help others, receive an extra outpouring of support and concern at Christmas time. Elizabeth Howell-Hicks, who runs the Facebook group Christmas Angels, said the concern for Bentley and his family was an amazing blessing.

“I just posted about wanting to do something for Bentley on Facebook,” Howell-Hicks says. “And everyone started replying from everywhere.”

The posting led to Bentley having his own special evening with Santa Claus at Mary’s Kitchen Catering in Ashland. Donations of presents and food poured in for the boy, and the show of community support touched the family.

“It amazes me,” Vance said about the event. “All of the work and the love that has gone into this for Bentley, and for us. I know that Braxton is looking down from heaven upon us.”

Vance also says she knows the son she lost is happy and at peace because he knows the younger brother he always called “his baby” had such a wonderful Christmas.

Festive lights and music cannot replace those we have lost, but the show of concern and compassion helps to draw people closer together. Gifts given freely let us know others care for us, and not the least important gift we can give is our time.

This year Howell-Hicks and her network of concerned individuals and businesses gave both those and more to share joy with a family when it needed it most.

And helping Bentley have a joyful Christmas during his grief typifies the spirit of a season that brings healing to the world.

CHARLES ROMANS is a freelance writer who lives in Greenup County.

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