It was Christmas again. Time to spread cheer and break bread with the people that had put me six feet under, said endless prayers for God to keep me safe and affirmed my being in a better place. I had to be in a better place, God couldn’t take me away from them unless he was taking me to a better place.

Only I wasn’t. I was at the dining table that morning, listening to the conversation about work and their homes. I was still getting used to the idea of my spawn having ownership over homes.

I was in the corridor watching as they ferried food and wine to the table. I wondered why they still feasted like food was going out of style on Christmas day. At least the wine flowed as red as I remembered it. That hadn’t changed.

I was in the back yard, lying in the shade of the large Avocado tree as they took pictures to freeze another unforgettable memory.

I was there. I was not off to some limbo or utopia where we go to rest. I was there.

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My pictures stay smiling on the walls. The old maroon sweater embroidered with miniature Christmas trees I would have worn today hangs untouched in the closet, like the letters my little girl writes but will never be read.  I am here.

I offer to take the picture so they can all be in it, that way it can be perfect. My people. My flesh and blood. How refreshing it is to see them like this. Happy and exuberant. For a moment I thought I would never see them full of life again. They cried so much. They hurt so much. But as the seasons changed, their hearts healed and their tears dried. I was saddened that they couldn’t let me take the picture. And more saddened that they all felt the empty space. I was missing.

I probably wouldn’t have wanted to take the picture any way. These people were always shoving a camera in my face at the oddest of times. But seeing now the walls radiating with my smiling face, the memories those stolen pictures bring to them, the bittersweet emotions they feel as they leaf through photo albums, I should have fought it less.

There are more of them now. My children are grown and there are some new faces. It’s amazing how time works. It’s amazing how love lasts.

It is chilly now and they move back to the house. I always loved being here more. The freedom of open air comforted me, gave me hope for my boxed-in existence. I begged them to stay outside. To get blankets and come sit with me under the avocado tree. Please, I said. Please don’t go. Please stay out here one moment longer. But they walked on. They didn’t hear me. They never heard me.

I was sad. I was angry and jealous of my own kin. For once since I had come to know and love each one of them, I couldn’t be with them.

They were spending Christmas together. I was spending mine alone. Six feet under.

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