I miss you unbearably this time of the year... I couldn’t look at your photo the first two years... but I did take your favorite shirt and stuff it like a big pillow...sprayed it with your favorite cologne... Crystal and I lay crying in your arms on the dark lonely nights without you. We couldn't bear to erase your voice from the answering machine but every time we called home and you took a message it almost killed us to hear your voice... Sometimes she would leave class and borrow a quarter just to hear your voice at times when she needed you... I would stop in the middle of the day and call you from work...Somehow it was slow torture to miss you but even harder to let you go completely... We've ignored Christmas for six years. It wasn't the same without you to share it. But finally came that moment just this year when Crystal got married and unpacked all her memories in her new home. She has your picture on the mantle and a stocking hung with your name on it...even though you can't be there in person she says that maybe you are there with them anyway and she wants you to know that she loves you still if all you can do is just observe from the ghostly realms... She is definitely your daughter...She inherited so many of your characteristics. The way she smooths back her dark with the palm of her hand and those reddish chocolate brown eyes that change to light and a dark with her moods. She has your sense of humor and love of music. I see you in her crooked smile and hear you in her accent. We finally wore out the pillow shirt, must have cried a river of tears missing you wrapped in your arms. Burying our faces in your collar. Sniffing you. I could never bear to wash that shirt. Now it smells like you and me and our daughter who finished growing up without you...and even the cat...who loves to lay in the crook of your arm when I'm not there. She sat at the door waiting for you...for the longest time. It broke our hearts how she would welcome us home and sit there patiently waiting for Daddy too...But you never came back and then Crystal left too...and now she only waits for me... Follows me from room to room and sits on the back of the potty purring as I take a bath...loving me with her eyes. I am so acutely aware of how lonely she must be in the house when I'm not here to. Even with her here I am so incredibly lonely. Especially this year. With our our daughter so far away. I walk every night just like you and I used to, under the stars, come rain or shine, season after season...Remember how you used to hold my hand and we'd pray together interjecting things we wanted God to know in our Husband and Wife prayer. I miss praying with you my love... Now I after I pray sometimes I find myself talking to you too and all the others who have left us behind...as if you can hear me ...I ache for you...Does this misery ever end? So many people tell me I should date and move on... especially this year when even our child has finally found masculine arms to hold her tight. Her happy and sad are at war with each other just like mine always has been. Torn between being thrilled to be with the new man in her life that she has dreamed of for so long...and longing to be my child still in my arms and wishing her Daddy were here for a three way kiss. She told me on the phone last night, laying in the dark... I could hear Jason snoring...that she wished she could just lay between the two of us safe in our arms and feel that innocent and loved again. This time of the year is so hard for her too...no matter how long it's been or happy she is with the future looming brightly ahead. She and I can finally look at your photos again... When you left I put your ring on the gold chain with the little cross you gave me and wore it round my neck...You loved to lay your head between my breast and there is where your ring has rested ever since. It made me feel you were still with me...smiling down at me from heaven. I put on your watch. The band was so huge but I wore it like a bracelet. Last year it stopped working and I couldn’t fix it so I retired it to my jewelry box. Do you remember that little heart shaped rock we found the night we met? It's still nestled in the purple velvet of that same space. Every time I open it up to get my earrings I see it..and I can't help but smile at how every little thing brought us together and still reminds me of you.... Especially our daughter. Ohhh if you could only see her now. She grew up to be even more than we dreamed of. She is miraculous. I only take solace in knowing that someday we'll all be together again when we have completed our journeys here too. Everyone tells me that I should let you go and live in the land of the living but some marriages were born in heaven and consummated on earth and how can I ever lay in another man's arms when I still miss yours... I love you...I will always love you... This is the emptiest Christmas of all without you or our daughter. I am trying to smile and give to others who are even less fortunate than I am. I can muster up a smile but it doesn't reach my heart. I am growing old alone. How did that happen? Is there Christmas in Heaven? Do you have a stocking with our names over your fireplace? Copyright © 2003 by Darlene Purcell All rights reserved.