We are coming up on Paxton’s fourth birthday and with Christmas but two weeks later I have decided to get an early start on the crying. I’ve done a little better lately but am having a rough time getting through December. I had hoped that after the first year of holidays that Christmas could return. And maybe it will some time but clearly this is not the year. This year, we are just going to let it slide again. I don’t “think” I am being rebellious about it. I hope I’m not. But I am just not up to it. Especially since the last Christmas we had together, was the one where Paxton cried out “Nana, I missed you!” when he saw me and brought both me and his Mama to a puddle of tears. He had just turned two and I had hardly heard him say a single word you could understand and suddenly he throws out an entire sentence. That is all I have been able to think about for a week. So when and if Christmas comes back – it is going to have to look a whole lot different.
Thanksgiving however, was actually good --better than I could have hoped. We had fourteen which is way above our normal Thanksgiving crowd. I had a long-time friend and her daughter come that I had not seen in twelve years. That was a pleasant surprise and she and I had a really nice catch up visit for the entire weekend.
Brian’s only daughter and first grandchild came – a bitter sweet time for both of us. This was the first time she had been back to our house since the Memorial Service the week after they all died. It was difficult for her I know but I am hoping that now that that hurdle has been scaled, it will get easier for her and we will begin to see more of her and the baby. All in all, it was an enjoyable family gathering.
Speaking of family gatherings, this house has always been the family gathering spot. We have a lot of space and it has been great for entertaining. Problem is that is what all of us see here now. Every family thing we have ever had included Brian and for many years – just Brian. We have had Sunday Dinners, cookouts and egg hunts, fishing and canoeing, swimming and hiking. We have held every Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day celebration that was held --here. All of the grandchildren learned to swim here, caught their first fish here, climbed their first tree here. This is where three little boys and me camped out in the back yard - for about two hours before they said, “Nana, camping was FUN!! Now let’s go inside.”
There are so many memories here both good and bad. We’ve been snowed in together without power for a week here during the only blizzard I have ever experienced in over 60 years. This is where Brian’s oldest son got snake bit on my birthday the year he was two. The boys worked side by side with Donald and I as we built our very rustic barn from a hundred year old oak tree that fell on the property. And the boys and Donald spent weeks building an apartment for my mother in the bonus room over a detached garage and that was where she moved into and spent the last four years of her life.
We have taken 20 plus years of family milestone photographs here including prom pictures, graduation pictures, first car pictures, first fish pictures, wedding pictures and baby pictures.
This has been the home that has always drawn a crowd and over the years we have hosted well over seven thousand people here for various functions. Think about that just a minute....
For the last three years of my mother’s life I hosted a party for all of her retiree friends that she worked with for over thirty years. I have had cookouts and picnics for forty plus friends and co-workers at the last three places I worked at. We have held over 100 weddings here and at least half-dozen baptisms and of course every single family holiday was here.
For the past twenty three years this is where we have called home and it has truly been the first place that I ever really felt “at home” safe and like I belonged. The roots we planted ran deep. Since living here we have loved and then buried twenty years of family pets and here we have experienced every stage of our family’s life – watching as our family has grown exponentially from a family of five to a family of twenty one.
But this is also where we were when the world came crashing down on us. This is where I collapsed in a puddle in my bedroom floor surrounded by a steady flow of tears and prayers as together both immediate family and church family learned the details about the loss of my son, my daughter in law and the baby I adored.
This is where I became intimately familiar with the fuzz in the dark corners of my closet floor as I reeled in shock and tried to absorb all that had happened. This is where hundreds of friends and family flowed in and out for the following week bringing food, words of comfort, prayers, cards, and support however we needed it. This is also where I was stared at everywhere we went for the months that followed. This is where we felt deserted and disillusioned as most of the same friends that had been here that first week seemed to drop off the radar and have never set foot here again. This is where total strangers and casual business acquaintance asked questions and pressed for details prying open the gaping gashes torn in my heart. This is where the guy that was so enthusiastic about getting to cut our grass and do some landscaping for us asked around and found out we were “those people” and suddenly refused to show up or take my calls anymore. This is where for fifteen months my granddaughter and my oldest son have refused to come back to because of the sad reminders that will always connect them to the worst day of their lives leaving me feeling lost and abandoned and not knowing what to do because though that is true for all of us --this was my home.
It once seemed like home to our entire family.
It once seemed like home to our entire family.
It's sad that it doesn't feel like home here anymore.