I woke up early, before the kids, this morning. This makes me a little nervous; rarely do I wake up early, wide awake, before the rest of the house. The three other times I remember this happening include the day Jack was born, the day our car was smashed into the neighbor's yard by a drunk driver, and the day that Ed died. I've decided, though, that I am just aware of the first weekend of Advent and am ready for the season of anticipation and hope to begin.
We pulled out the Christmas decorations last night. Years of looking forward to the holiday season have become habit; I automatically feel an anticipation of wonder and contentment. Of course, now, as soon as I bring up the boxes flooded with memories and dreams of another life, I am forced right back into today's reality: it's now about creating new memories, redefining contentment, and--maybe--*just* maybe--imagining there are new dreams that could be fulfilled (but, shhhh... that's too dangerous yet to think about).
Despite our new reality, we still use the decorations of another life because, I suppose, we are reminded of a lot of the good from that life. And, for all the work and investment that went into that life-I can't completely let go. Nor should I, for my children's sake.
Yet, I only hung up three stockings: Jack, Laura, and Reese. Just like the Christmas card I am sending out this year: from the three of us. Just like the picture on the fridge that Jack drew of the three of us and written above the picture: "I am thankful for my family." And, it's a family of three. I am amazed and proud that Jack could face drawing that picture; I was in the middle, holding the hand of each child on either side of me. The three of us fill the entire frame of the paper-as if there isn't anyone missing. So, I'm not sure why it knocked me over to hang up only three stockings. I had to pause, sit on the couch and let the grief wash over. Reese came and sat by me, hugged me, called me sweetie pie and told me that she loved me. Then, we set out the Advent wreath and candles.