It seems to be a season for grief to pile upon grief. It makes me wonder if we should just forego Christmas this year. It is supposed to be a time of peace and family.

MKL’s cousin – second cousin, I suppose – was one of the police officers  shot and killed in Topeka, Kansas two days ago.  Police Officer Jeff Atherly was only 29 years old, and had been on the police force for less than two years. Law enforcement is a  long-standing profession in MKL’s family – I can’t tell you how many uncles and cousins have been professional lawmen.  Even his sister was a police officer for ten years. It is a proud and noble line of work for this family, and the loss of one of the younger generation has hit the family hard.

I am not from a large family, so MKL’s extended family seems huge to me. They still have a family reunion every year in Kansas, in a town that’s little more than a crossroad on the map. MKL had the pleasure of spending some time with Jeff there last summer.  This would have been my first year to attend, but we had some confusion on the dates, and I couldn’t make it.  Next year, I will go, even though it’s a little scary being introduced to so much new family all at once. (And here I want to take a moment to say that I am so very thankful that I have renewed contact with my own dear cousin Tamara.)

I appreciate the closeness of the family’s hearts and look forward to being a part of it. I’m sorry that I will never get to meet Jeff, for he must have been a very fine young man.  I am sad to think of his parents, his family, who will be without him this holiday and all those that follow.  Tragedy seems to be flowing so thickly through our country right now. This one that personally touches me and the man I love, on top of the little angels of Sandy Hook, seems almost too much to bear.

Perhaps this year, we need the spirit of Christmas more than ever, and the peace and magic that spirit can bring.

Photo of Officer Jeff Atherly

Rest in peace, Officer Atherly.