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You were with us this Christmas. All around us.

You were present in the way we decorated and the food we ordered.

You were present in the way we opened our gifts – one at a time so everyone could see what everyone else got.

You were present while we were eating the clam dip, and the appetizers and the special bruschetta that you buy for Chris.

You were present when we got our bags full of fun “surprises” and you were present when the only one that really needed to open them was the first one to go since they were the same for all three of us girls and all three of the guys.

You were present in the kitchen, when we laid the desserts out on the big table and when I made coffee in the urn you have used since my Christening.

You were present in the way Uncle Mike and I did a shot as soon as he came in and you were there when we all sat around talking and laughing and remembering you.

Most of all, though, you were present in the boys laughter, in their joy when they opened their gifts and when they cried after, when we got home, because they miss you so much.

You were present when I looked at my sister, Lori, and how she interacts with Gavin. She is such an amazing mother. She wore your Christmas bell earrings and your Christmas socks. She is so much more like you than I ever thought she was. She is so strong. So loyal. We have always been close but, your passing has made us even closer. You are definitely present in that.

You were present last night when Chrissy handed out the bags of of “surprises”. See, she bought them. And her face lit up when each one was opened. She is SO like you. She is so generous, so loving and so good. And, I swear she looks more like you since you passed than she did before. You are present in her every day.

You are present when Daddy takes a picture of every present we open, when he laughs and when he cries and when he lets us love him to help him heal. He is more open and more demonstrative with his love than he has ever been. You are so very present in that.

And, finally, you were present in my heart. As you are every second, every minute of every day. And so, as much as we missed you – and believe me we did – you were there.