Christmas Day, 2011. We're doing our best to make it a good day for the kids. Presents were slim this year. Under normal circumstances, we would all be filled with cheer, love and happiness, and the meager presents wouldn't be a big deal. But these aren't normal circumstances.
The empty condo above us haunts the entire trip. They were supposed to be here. A holiday getaway in a winter wonderland for both families. We had planned it the second time we met face to face. Over coffee, we had mentioned our plans for Christmas. When They said how much They would love to do something like that, we offered the spare condo we'd reserved for family who ended up not being able to make it. They accepted the offer immediately. We all agreed it was best to wait to mention anything about it to my brother and his wife. It was they who introduced us, afterall, and in their eyes, they had dibs on Them. As we drove away from the coffee house, we couldn't believe how unbelievably insane we were, offering to spend Christmas with a couple we had only met twice. But in the midst of the insanity, we both knew it felt right. That it was supposed to be this way.
And so it feels today--that it's supposed to be that way. That They should be here. But they aren't. I made a last-minute plea on Friday night for Them to come, to no avail. She said it would just make her sad. I asked if not being here would make her not sad. She didn't answer.
So here we sit, waiting for the pool to open, having returned from a walk where we tried to hash out the details of our impending separation. Most people would ask why we couldn't at least wait until the holiday is over to think and talk about these things. It's simply because trying to not think about them doesn't work. This IS our life. This will in fact be our last Christmas together as the family we've known for almost a quarter of a century. No matter how much we try to pretend otherwise, there is no way to escape the pall that it casts on the day. And no way to escape the silence above where the footsteps of the people we truly love should be.