An Advent letter to my Mama



Dear Mama,

The author’s mother, who was dealing with cancer treatments at the time. She passed away on Thanksgiving Day, 2010. Photo provided

This morning, I found out we are, yet again, not pregnant … and all I want to do is turn on the Christmas tree lights, sit beside you and hear you tell me about how you were surprised to find out you were pregnant. I want to ask your advice. I want to get some of the comfort you gave out like breath.

But you are not here. It is the third Sunday of Advent, and I cannot help but sit heavy with sadness; grief, once it comes in, shades everything a little more charcoal: The white Christmas lights I insist on because you taught me their beautiful simplicity. The jigsaw puzzle of Santa that I am putting together SO slowly, doing the straight-edges first as you taught me. The journal that sits next to your Bible, the one I read every morning. All of these things carry both the light and the shadow of your existence.

In this season of waiting—for babies both eternal and mortal—I miss you. I miss your laugh and the way it filled a room with its joy. I miss your wisdom, doled out in tiny measure over coffee on pj-clad mornings when I came home as an adult. But this time of year, I miss your music most.

In this season of waiting—for babies both eternal and mortal—I miss you.

When you sat at the piano, a dust of glory shown around you. Your whole body moved behind your fingers, beauty streaming forth, praise to the God you trusted—with strenuous commitment and a whole bevy of doubt—glowing into the whole room like frankincense.

Oh, there is worship even in memory.

Remember that year you wrote that Christmas cantata from the perspective of “the least of these.” How you took to heart God’s choice to send Jesus as an infant and pushed us all to see that when we are on the bottom, we sometimes see the glory best? That was my favorite Christmas program you ever did.

This morning, I feel a bit on the bottom, and yet, you taught me when you’re really low-down, the best thing to do is look up and give yourself over to the work that lets you shine. For me, Mama, that’s words … and I can only pray that when I write them well, a little of that glory dust spills out and shines up the room as your music did.

Merry Christmas, Mama. I love you and I can’t wait to see you again.


ANDI CUMBO-FLOYD is a writer, editor and farmer who lives in Madison County, Va., with her husband, 4 cats, 4 dogs, 6 goats, 28 chickens and 3 rabbits. Her books include “The Slaves Have Names” and “Steele Secrets” and she writes regularly at and 


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