Another Holiday Message

Holiday Letter ‘16

It is December 9th, the 26th anniversary of our son Corey’s death.  Karen, Reid, and I visited the Memorial Garden at St. Paul’s Church today to place a Christmas tree in the garden where his ashes are buried and his name is carved into the centuries-old stone wall.  We hugged and shed some tears — reflecting on a life that lasted just over three months.

This might not be the kind of message we want to reflect on at this time of year, but Corey will forever be linked to the Christmas season in our hearts.  But, as I said at Corey’s memorial service, even his brief life had a profound positive impact on the world.


Our experience with Corey taught us humility and perseverance; his short life evoked generosity, connection, gratitude, and unconditional love among our family and friends (so imagine what we might be able to do with our considerably longer lives…).  Another impact of Corey’s life was that thousands of dollars were donated to the Globe Santa Fund in Corey’s name.  So, even though we had to wake up on Christmas Day without Corey, because of him dozens of children woke up to find presents under the tree.

We worry sometimes that Corey has been forgotten — and that makes us sad.  To convert that sadness to joy, we want to ask those of you who are able and so inclined to make a modest donation to a children’s charity this season or in the coming year in memory of Corey James Durham.  And please let us know about it via Facebook or email (, so we can celebrate his memory together.

Reflecting on the more recent past, I feel that our family is very blessed in so many ways.  Craig and Laura’s wedding was an amazingly joyful event.  The road keeps getting paved in front of their journey together, and Craig’s refusal to give up on his dream of professional broadcasting inspired me to follow my own passion and join GrowthPlay. There, I am working with a team of amazing people, and can once again do the speaking, training, and consulting that I love.

Paige has become the person a Dad dreams about when a daughter is born.  My little girl really has become a terrific young lady – and a great writer, as some of you may recall from the ’12 Holiday Letter.  The recent weekend Karen and I spent in Virginia at a tournament with Paige’s Ultimate Frisbee team was one of our favorite two days of the year!  As the president and tri-captain of the team, she is a natural leader.

And Reid continues to be Reid – never knowing a bad mood, and finding joy in everything.  He is always amused when people ask for one of his “Me Happy Now” bumper stickers. (If anyone wants some, just ask and we will send them.)

And then there is Karen.  She is the rock, the glue, and one of the shiniest lights on this planet – not just to me and the kids, but to everyone who knows her.  Karen knows only kindness and giving, but she is also my best friend and a fun drinking buddy!  It doesn’t matter what I am praying for — the health of my children, a safe journey, or world peace, I always end by asking God to give me the joy of growing old with her.

Karen and I want to say “thank you” to our extended families and friends from our hometowns, our high schools, and our colleges, and to those whom we have met along the way.  You are our foundation, and a vibrant, important part of our lives.  You keep us young, laughing, and vital. We love you all.

Speaking of people we love, thank you to Laura’s family (Heather, Pat and Scott) for sharing your fabulous daughter with us!  You have been so gracious and welcoming to our family. It is great to have you (as well as Grammy, Grampa and Cali) in our lives.

I wrote the poem below one dark night when I was standing in the Memorial Garden thinking about Corey.  It truly appeared that there was light shooting up from the ground around me. These words came to me all at once.  The poem can remind us, I think, that there is a spirit in the Universe that embraces, cares for, and calls for us all to live the best life we possibly can.

A Prayer with Corey in Mind

 I look up to the sky, as I stand near your name

in the Garden where we shared your ashes with the earth.

You are larger than life, larger than all of us;

a child in a boundless spirit from birth.


You know the peace to which we all aspire,

and you know the joy we can only imagine.

You know the love that we all desire,

and you know the heaven we continually seek.


You know the Angels we dream to embrace,

and the thoughts of a genius unknown;

you know the secrets of this human race,

and the splendor of God on a throne.


Be now in our midst as a constant reminder

of the hope and serenity of life everlasting;

and help us to be mindful of the love we can find here

in a world that follows Heart’s teaching.


Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah



4 thoughts on “Another Holiday Message

  1. Jim, Thank you for sharing your letter. It is beautiful and full of feelings. We certainly try to take care of children in our State (Maine) that have foster parents or grandparents taking care of them. When I wake up on Christmas Day they are the first children I think of. Our little town took care of 851 this year! From now on my gift will be in memory of Corey. Merry Christmas to you and your family. Love you-Muriel

  2. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and sentiments with all of us. Your words have particular meaning this Christmas season as one of my dear friends has just given birth to a child who will, barring a miracle, soon be with the angels. Wishing you and yours the spirit of the season and a joyous 2017.

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