I surround myself in family and friends and nothing is missing. We decorate sugar cookies in brightly coloured icing and sprinkles and then make homemade pizzas staggering under the weight of a dozen different toppings. Crowded around our dining room table my family and extended family and adopted family talk over each other and their voices blend into audio waves, the tide dragging me out of myself, sucked into this sea of festivity and love. M and my step brother, Tynon, take pains to dress the Christmas tree in perfect strings of light until she becomes allergic and takes a backseat. Tas and I pawn off ugly ornaments on each other to hang and Tynon laughs when I show him the handmade ones of my childhood and hangs them in the back.
“So, the whole world can see them!” He chuckles as they reflect twinkling in the window, nestled among the multicoloured Christmas lights.
The wine flows and cushions. When the tree is finished the overhead lights go off and we collapse throughout the living room like tired dancers in a Degas painting. We talk in murmurs as the stereo flicks in and out of conversation and Pierre gets up to change the record.
I perch on the edge of D’s leather chair and admire her bangs as she laughs. I think about getting my hair trimmed soon.
The people slowly stand and bundle up in scarves and hats and trickle out the door or up to bed. Soon, it is just M, D and I. We finish another bottle of wine and I hug M goodbye and whisper that I’ve missed her. And then it is just me and D as we crawl into my bed and chuckle and gossip in the quiet light of my bedside lamp. After a little while I hear a soft snore and the book she was reading falls to the floor. Then it’s just me typing softly on my computer. Me, closing it with a soft click. Me, leaving my glasses on the table and turning out the light.
And then it’s just me and the darkness. I turn over and back to warm back I fall asleep.
It isn’t until the next morning, reading by my newly constructed Christmas tree that I realize with a soft start that it’s my first year decorating without him…and I didn’t miss a thing.
Alexi Murdoch – Breathe