My stomach churned to be forced to casually answer the dreaded question aloud, to lump you in with the dead, with your brother B.W. It is still so wholly absurd, so wrong, that you are not here with us.
The woman's toddler son bounced in her lap, his excitement bubbling over, when one of his sisters took the stage. His mother shushed him gently as he pointed and called out her name. The little boy seemed to be in awe of his sister while his mother beamed with pride.
We ought to have had moments like that one, Zachary.
It is our second Christmas since you died, and it is still so disorienting.
Familiar holiday traditions, the excitement with which we used to approach them, seems to have been shattered right along with your perfect little body, almost two years ago. Again, I could not bring myself to pull out the old artificial Christmas tree, the lights, the collection of ornaments, the myriad decorations, the playlist of Christmas music - all of the things that used to mean something to us. Again, I couldn't bear to resurrect the tree in memory of your brother, or even any of his old ornaments; the implication that we add another memorial tree for you, our other dead son. All of the old accoutrements to Christmas just feel like a sham, like they belong to another family, not ours.
Participating in the "Christmas spirit" (not to be confused with celebrating the actual meaning and spirit of the historical first Christmas) feels foreign to me now. I don't recognize it. I don't understand it. But, for C.T.'s sake, because he is still influenced by the stuff of Christmas, and by the enthusiasm of his friends and classmates around the holiday, we did buy a small live tree this year. We delayed and delayed until a little over a week ago when the pickings were slim, so it is truly a sad, needle-dropping, specimen. The tree is decorated mostly with handmade/hand-painted ornaments in your memory, a few new ones in memory of B.W. and of course, some crafty ornaments made by C.T. This seems to be the only way I can tolerate a Christmas tree, something remotely festive, in our home.
Christmas would be so different if you were here, Zachary. I look at photos of C.T. on his second Christmas, when he was almost two years old, and I'm desperate to know, to concoct, to connect your 14-day life with, who you would have been on this day, in 2015.
Like a fool, I keep wondering, pining.
I love you and miss you. On Christmas. Every day.