A toast to remembrance

The year is ending, and I would like us all to stop a moment to take stock of the year that has been. I don’t mean in some global perspective. Forget all that crap for a month. What you can do is make your journey through this world as wonderful as possible. During this break I want you all to take a few moments and be thankful for what you have, or remember fondly what you have lost.

The holidays are bittersweet for many people, me included. This time of year, as joyful as it can be, is also a reminder of people that have gone from our lives. I would wish that this year you take but a moment and reflect on you life, the joys, the sorrows, the little victories and the losses. Share these times with those around you. Bring those people from whom you have grown apart closer to you, let go of those arguments and differences that have kept you at odds. Make good on those promises to be a better person and try your hardest to be the person you always wished you could be.

Find a person who is alone this holiday season and bring them into your life even if only for this one holiday. It isn’t really that hard: go to a nursing home, and while you’re there you can spend some time with people who know more about life than you ever will. Give someone who has nobody a friend to be with this holiday season. Actually try to make the world a better place, one person at a time instead of worrying about things that will not mean a thing ten years from now.

We are all capable of being good; let’s use the holidays to celebrate that. Grab someone and hug them. Hold your loved ones as close and as hard as you can, because they may not be there next year. Life is fleeting. For those who have lost someone they love, this time of year brings just how fleeting it is into focus.

Think about what you have, but in doing so also think for a moment about what you have to lose. In the words of John Bergin, "One day you are going to lose everything you have. Nothing will prepare you for that day. Not faith, not religion, nothing. When someone you love dies, you will know emptiness."

Before you come to this point – and make no mistake, you are going to get there some day – cherish these fleeting times of laughter and joy, these stolen moments of love, the flash of a smile, the touch of a lover, the kiss of a child. These things will pass, and someday your holidays will be filled with sorrow. Before that happens make the most of the love you have. Grab onto life, grab on to those around you and hold tight, for you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

"If you are someone who has nothing to lose, then you are already here, and your lesson is a much more difficult one." I read those words from John Bergin 10 years ago when my holidays began to be laced with sorrow, so I speak from a well of sadness, deep with time.

To the people who hate this time of year, when joy fills everything but their hearts, I can tell you from personal experience that time will heal all wounds. It sounds like a clich퀌�, and it is, but it is also true. Ten years later, the tragedy that had colored my holidays made me relish them all the more.

At this time of year, let’s all sit back and reflect on those we love. Give a big hug to those still with you and raise a glass to the faithfully departed. I raise my glass to the men with whom I was honored to serve and say a prayer for those still in harm’s way. May you all come home soon, and safe. I raise my glass to my grandfather Germany. May you fly higher than the sky and find purchase within that realm of angels. I raise my glass to my grandfather Stinchfield. May you find solace and peace in the bosom of our almighty Lord. Last of all, I raise a glass to Jaxon Lloyd Kenichi Germany. I miss you still and love you more than you know. I’ll see you all again, but not yet.

To all our friends – past, present and future – all the loved ones we lost along the way and the loves yet around the corner, I say goodnight, God bless and I’ll see you all next year.

Jason Germany can be reached at [email protected]