I made an iPhoto slideshow, photos of Robb at Christmas. I paired it with Sarah McLachlan's WinterSong, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Song for a Winter's Night. These are the lyrics and melodies of my heart this season.
Dozens of pictures.
Robb hugging me in falling snow.
Robb teaching Tucker how to unwind the lights to hang outside.
Robb giving them their Christmas jammies that Santa always brought early.
Robb holding Tucker in the Baby Bjorn while he ironed the red satin bows for our Christmas tree.
The Christmas when Tyler was the bump inside my belly.
Tyler with a big, red bow on his noggin.
Robb teaching Tucker how to run the remote for the Christmas train, the one that circles our tree this year.
A picture of four Starbucks cups lined in a row, our treat last year before we drove around town looking at lights.
Robb playing his trombone at our church's event last Christmas, days before he would die.
I showed it to the boys tonight. I wanted it to matter to them. My expectations were perhaps unfair. They wiggled and squirmed. They had the attention spans of a four-year-old and six-year-old. Imagine that.
"Look, boys. Look. Look. Look!" I became exasperated as I watched pictures go by - one of Robb helping Tucker play the trombone, another one of him wearing matching Santa hats with Tyler.
Please, boys, look. I want you to know that this happened.
"Mommy, are you crying because we were so cute?"
"No, I'm crying because I miss Daddy. I miss him."
"Mommy, I want my hot chocolate."
"Mommy, I want my blanket."
"Boys, I don't want to talk right now. I don't want you to talk. I want you to watch. Please watch."
I wanted them to see the proof. I am terrified they are forgetting. I want them to know it happened. It happened, boys. He was here.
The movie finished. I was furious.
Furious that they didn't watch,
furious that my heart spills into my lungs and makes it hard to breathe,
furious that he isn't here.
Tears streamed down my cheeks.
I held a tissue over my face to hide 'the ugly cry.'
"I love Daddy. And I miss him."
"Me, too, Tuck."
He whispered, as if he were telling a shameful secret, "I'm just not sad right now."
Well said, my little man. I understand that. "It's okay, buddy. You don't have to be."
Tyler brought to me the painting of the panda Tucker made in kindergarten Art Club. "Here, Mommy. This will cheer you up."
I set it on the coffee table, amidst my wads of tissues.
They didn't need the movie tonight. I did.
They didn't need the reminders. I did.
They are not forgetting him.
We talk about him everyday.
They haven't gone a year without looking at him.
His pictures line our walls.
He is alive in their minds. Very alive in their minds.
And someday that movie will be a keepsake for them. Proof: it really, truly happened. He was really, truly here.
Tyler ate cheese cubes and orange jello for breakfast because I couldn't get out of bed this morning. I couldn't get out of the damn bed.
And tomorrow waits for me. And I'm pretty sure there's another day after that.