Stephen J. Nesbitt is a senior writer for The Athletic, covering Pittsburgh sports. He recently wrote about the joy of welcoming a new baby so quickly after learning of the death of his youngest sister, Bethany Nesbitt, who was a student at Grace College when she died on October 30. A portion of the story appears below. Click here to read the complete article.
A brother’s grief, a father’s joy and learning to live with both at Christmas
The other night, I carried our crying baby boy down the stairs to the living room and settled into a chair across from the Christmas tree. It was 3 a.m. Luke couldn’t sleep, and so neither could I. As we sat there and rocked, the crying got softer and then stopped. Luke’s big, blue eyes stared at the tree, mesmerized by all of the bright lights dancing in the darkness.
It’s difficult to draw firm conclusions about a newborn, but there’s one thing we already know about Luke: He loves the Christmas tree.
His first real car ride was to a tree farm outside of Pittsburgh. Luke was only three weeks old at the time, but the trip couldn’t wait for another day. This was a family tradition, and even (or maybe especially) in 2020, tradition matters.
Most years, the Christmas season begins for my family the day after Thanksgiving, when we pile into a couple of cars at my parents’ place in Michigan and go get a tree. This farm is just off the freeway, past open fields and a small cemetery. We walk the rows of firs and spruces, each of us fighting for our favorite, and then gather around the chosen tree for a family picture. That night, we decorate the tree, darken the rest of the house and sing carols.
All of these years, no one loved that tradition more than my little sister, Bethany. As the youngest of nine kids, she adored the holidays — the time when her siblings came home and the house filled again with family and noise.
For us, and for so many families around the world, this Christmas is different.
This is the first Christmas without Bethany, and the first with Luke. Our son was born six days after my little sister died as she slept in her dorm room. She had COVID-19. She was 20.
Click here to read the complete article.