Our first Christmas without you

Dear Chad,

There was definitely something missing yesterday, as the girls were opening their gifts and we shared fun with family and friends.
It was strange this year, no doubt.

All last week, I kept thinking about this time last year.
You had surgery on December 16, 2009 to reroute one of your shunts.
You had such a hard time with the pain and once you got home, your energy was just zapped.
Somehow, I knew it my heart it would be your last Christmas with us. And you thought so, too.
I hate that I was right; that we were right.
It just seems so long ago, yet not.

On the morning of Christmas Eve, I missed waking up to your famous pancakes.
Technically, this is our second year with them, as you didn’t feel up to your chef duties last year.
I even missed cleaning up after you – pancake mix dust all over the counter and sticky syrup faces on two sweet little girls.

Last year, you were awake and out of bed just long enough to see the girls open gifts; which isn’t very long.
They had everything unwrapped in record time this year, I’m sure you know.

The girls received some gifts you would have despised; noisy toys.
I can remember how those noises would aggravate your headaches, so we just never bought them – or the girls had to play in their rooms quietly, headphones and reduced volumes.
The girls were so excited. You should have seen the look on their faces when they realized the electronic piano has a microphone that allows them to sing along with their melodies. I think I will be hearing their remakes of Justin Beiber songs in my dreams for a while to come…

Part of their childhood has been stifled; I’m trying to make up for it.
They’ve been noisy.
They’ve been loud.
They’ve been what kids should be at Christmas; loud and often crazy on a sugar high.
It seems to make the quiet a little more bearable for me at times.
And at other times, it makes me crazy. And I wish I had never purchased toys that make noise.
But they are happy. And that’s all I need right now.

We followed our traditions, for the most part.
We went to the annual Christmas Eve party at Shannon’s house.
We came home and I let the girls unwrap one gift; new pajamas.
We went to bed and I hurriedly set up Santa Claus’ goodies – hoping the rustling of paper and bags wouldn’t wake them up.
Funny how we always worried about that; because they never budge.
They did, however, wake up around 3:30am to check out what Santa brought — then they went back to bed. I had to make them get up at 7:30. You would have liked “sleeping in” on Christmas morning this year.

We went to my aunt’s house in the afternoon and visited with family, just like every year before this one.
It was so good for me to be surrounded by so much love.
The girls had a lot of fun, laughing and playing with their cousins, aunts & uncles.

We had a good day.
The girls were exhausted when we finally got home.
And when it was quiet, when I was alone with my thoughts, I just missed you.
I sobbed, which caught me by surprise. I seemed to have myself together yesterday for the girls’ sake, but the quiet got to me.
The quiet exhausts me.
It doesn’t seem right and it doesn’t seem fair.
I’m so tired of the quiet.

Life is never perfect, I understand.
And it’s not promised to be fair.
I get that. I truly do.
Life is such a precious, precious gift.
I just hate that it was us; that it was you; that it was me; that it was our family.
I wouldn’t hope for this to happen to anyone else; I would just wish it away all together.

You seem to be sending me little messages here and there, putting people in my path that I would never have met without this unfortunate situation.
It’s humbling.
And it’s tragic.
And it’s also so beautiful.

We woke up this morning to a winter wonderland.
You would love it; snow and snow and snow.
Large fluffy flakes are still coming down – you would have been out with a snow shovel this morning so you could take your truck out and survey the snow outside of our neighborhood.
You would have been bugging me to get the girls dressed to go out and play.
You would have been dressed in your bright yellow Columbia parka, ready for fun with your girls.
I really miss seeing you in that coat today.

Merry Christmas, Chad.
I love you.
And I miss you.


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