A Texas couple who lost nine family members in the tragic Sutherland Springs church shooting last month is relying on their Christian faith to find joy this Christmas.
On Nov. 5, Joe and Claryce Holcombe lost their son, Bryan, 60; their daughter-in-law, Karla, 58; their grandson Danny, 36, their granddaughter-in-law Crystal, 36, who was pregnant; and four great-grandchildren: Noah, 18 months, Greg Hill, 13, Emily Hill, 11, and Megan Hill, 9, Time reported.
Despite the inconceivable tragedy, which occurred just before the holiday season began, Joe Holcombe, affectionately known as “Papa Joe,” said the family will still celebrate at Christmastime.
“We probably won’t have as much Christmas as we usually do, but we’ll have plenty,” he told Time. “It’s something definitely worth celebrating.”
Joe Holcombe admitted that the holiday may be difficult to get through, but said the family will forge on.
“I’m sure it will be hard this year, but we’ll get over that too because it won’t last long.”
Joe and Claryce Holcombe, who have been married for more than 60 years, said they find comfort in knowing that their loved ones are in heaven.
“It won’t be long until we’ll be there with the rest of the family,” he said. “I miss my family. We don’t see them coming down the sidewalk at the front door anymore. But I won’t miss them long.”
An estimated 3,000 people attended the family funeral, which took place 10 days after the shooting at First Baptist Church.
Joe Holcombe plans to stay home during the holidays, but he said he expects more visitors during that time. And for those he lost, he said he will remember them as deeply loved by Jesus.
“That’s what we all should do,” Holcombe said. “We’ll never forget them.”