So this week, this happens...
Boy do I get this. You cannot possibly understand this unless you have lost a child...but I felt the same way. I wanted to be with Melissa too. I've heard of broken heart syndrome. Your heart feels like it's going to explode...they are together forever....
I'm beginning to realize that the holidays will never get easier. I often wonder how my mom got through the holidays. She had 32 Christmas's without her son, my brother. She and my dad hardly ever talked about my brother, but my mom always put his stocking up at Christmas. Looking back, it seemed natural. There were four kids. Not three. And it was the ONE way my mom kept my brother alive. She couldn't talk about him, but she wanted him there.
Christmas started with the Fortener's the week before Christmas - great party, but not a good day for me. It was a snowy, icy day. I slipped on the ice in the morning, twisted my knee. FELL on the ice in the afternoon unloading stuff from Donny's mom's car, landing on my elbow, jammed into my shoulder. It's hell getting old...
The Fortener Christmas is now at the VFW - too many people for one family's home. Works out perfectly. Melissa LOVED the Fortener Christmas...she loved the chaos. I know she would approve of the move to the VFW. The kids have lots of room to open presents and play.
Andrew is almost as tall as GG!!! (We have a picture of Nick with Grandma Rado that is just like this!)
Santa & Mrs. Claus always make a stop...
Roz, the kids and in laws
Roz's grandkids (that were able to make it)
Roz's great grandkids (that were able to make it)
Me and MY grandson. I love this picture of me and Andrew!
We took the boys to Carillon Park this year - this is the second year the bell tower was lit up like a Christmas tree and this year the museum and park was lit with Christmas lights, there was a train ride (that we stood in line for an hour for, in 20 degree temps, only to find that it was an open train ride. You straddled a bench and sat front to back - only 12 people on at a time - we FROZE. But the kids loved it.) Then we hurried to the museum to get out of the cold. It was awesome. I can see this being a new tradition...
even I enjoy a carousel ride occasionally...
They had a WWI exhibit in the museum this year.
Santa's chair - but Santa was absent, so they tried it out!
The boys spent the night a couple days before Christmas and decorated cookies and gingerbread men.
Andrew has a little more patience. I think Max decorated one. He has more patience throwing a football up and catching it - endlessly.
Our new family tradition is celebrated Christmas Eve. Nick, Mere, Andrew, Max, me, Donny.
Pretty laid back. Dinner, gifts, games. Nick spent a lot of time putting things together this year. He got Donny a FireStick and set that up, they got me a new camera (with detachable lenses!) It's really nice.
Ready for the BUCKEYES
a mug from Andrew...with HIS artwork. My favorite!
Family photo (taken by the boys)
Andrew with this years "Andrew Book" (I make each of them a book every year. Everything we do from Christmas until the next December. Kind of a yearbook for each of them.)
Donny with his new "Marty Moose" mug with EggNog
Max & Mommy (playing YAHTZEE!!!!)
Can't remember who, but someone gave this to Melissa her last Christmas. The angel is from one of our Compassionate Friends Memorials. The gift box on the right was from Tiff. Still has the gift in it that Tiff gave Melissa that Christmas.
A gift from my (long time) friend Carol. This is so true.
I know I have talked about our connection to the Franz family. How Melissa said we were "Franz wannabes". It's true. They are an amazing family. I played softball with all of the Franz sisters (and several of their girls as well), Donny played softball with the Franz brothers. Mark was my age, Mary is Donny's age. They have included us in most of the events in their family...weddings, graduations, birthday parties, baby showers. We really feel like we are part of the family. This Christmas, Bobby (the youngest of 11) made these framed momentos for every member of the family. And he included US. It's official. We ARE part of the Franz family! Thank you so much Bobby!!!!
(guess I should explain the significance of 4582. When Scott was little, he told his mom "I love you 4582." Because that was the biggest number he could think of! Now it's the "Love you" signature of all the Franz's. And us. Because we're one of them now. I 4582 that.
Obviously he's seen our home decor. This fits right in.
This was the first Christmas (since before we had kids) that we woke up on Christmas morning just the two of us. It was odd. Quiet. Peaceful. And it was ok. Nick & Mere spend Christmas Day with her family (it's her mom's birthday too).
We don't normally go to his sister's for her family's Christmas, but we did this year to see her son Andy off - he was deployed to Turkey the next morning. Eight months. Keep him in your prayers.
Andy with his puppy.
When we got home, Matthew (my nephew, sister Sue's son). We're his family on his mom's side now. Had a nice visit - he actually had Christmas Day off! (told me his last paycheck, for two weeks, had 151 hours. Crazy.)
Matthew having some eggnog with Marty Moose...
And while I normally close with pics of Andrew & Max, I'm changing it up - there are plenty of pictures above.
Finally got good news from my dad. He's coming home. To Dayton. To live. I've found a place in Beavercreek about 5 minutes from us. Reminds me a lot of Victoria Landing (although he won't have a balcony and his view won't be the Indian River), there is a pond is we can get him a room on that side of the building. The girl I've been talking to said "we'll put dolphins on a wheel so he can see dolphins jumping" I like that she remembered that from my first visit. I think it will be a perfect fit for dad.
So while the holidays just aren't the same without my beautiful Melissa (her booming voice and laughter)...we made it through. This was our 8th Christmas without her. How is that possible.
Now we have next week.
January 3. Eight years since I last saw my pretty girl.
January 5. She should be 39 years old that day.
I am meeting some good friends on Jan 3 for coffee. They knew Melissa and loved her like we did.
Then I will reminisce. I will go through the tub of things we kept from that Christmas. There isn't much celebration in this day.
But her birthday is different. We will ALWAYS celebrate that day. January 5, 1978 was the day our lives changed forever. We were so blessed to have her, even if it was only for 30 (almost 31) years.
China Cottage was the tradition, and as long as China Cottage is open, we will celebrate her birthday there. She love it.
The missing never goes away.
Every day is one day closer to seeing her again.
I'll be back next week.