Almost three years after the fact, it suddenly dawned on me that December 21, 2017, the day my wife Mary passed away, was the winter solstice. The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, the one with the shortest period of daylight and the beginning of winter. And it was certainly the darkest day of my life.

But it is also the last day of diminishing light. Starting the next day the daylight period each day gets progressively longer until the summer solstice in June of the next year. The winter solstice also occurs during the last week of the Advent season, a season which includes the lighting of candles to represent the blessings to come from the birth of Jesus, the Savior, the light of the world. And shortly after the winter solstice comes Christmas day, followed a week later by the first day of a brand new year.

I remember that just three days after Mary passed away I celebrated the best Christmas Eve I ever had, knowing that she was in a place with no sorrow, pain or tears, other than tears of joy and laughter, and that I would one day in the not too distant future join her in that happy place. As I reflected in my book “Traveling Solo but Never Alone”, in the next days and months a brand new phase of my life began, one that is still proving to be full of challenge, adventure and accomplishment.

Three years later in 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a very dark period for people all over the world. However, the miraculous development of two highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, with more to come, provides a ray of hope that we are nearing the dawning of a brand new day in the new year of 2021 that will bring light to the world once again, and fill us to overflowing with joy and gratitude.