It had been our best Christmas in recent memory. My son and his new bride had not been home for five years due to the constraints of his location at the far end of America and the jealous whims of his first begrudging wife, the United States Army. Even so, we have learned to greedily take what we have been given and to make the best of our far too infrequent face-to-face encounters. One lives with the hand one is dealt.
Every parent who has grown grey watching their little ones cycle through the fleeting Christmas mornings only to watch stoically as the world takes them into its indifferent embrace, knows of what I speak. The smile that refuses to hide the tears and the mask that futilely veils the shallow despair of watching them disappear into an airport terminal are both invariably broken by the utter silence of two aging souls who are left only with each other to find consolation in. As such, the ghosts of tiny laughter spills over their bounds into the halls of that great house and we no longer can differentiate the years that flew too quickly; precious time we are acutely aware of featuring a heartbreaking wisdom that will never be redeemed again.
Learn well that the anticipation that attends the Fair Side of Christmas is balanced by its sorrow on the leeward. We all bear the consequences of sunrises that have managed to drip through our palms and whisper forebodingly into our ears that what we have adhered to in anguish was only a Way Station towards a far off terminus. Even so, I meditate frequently on the knowledge that I will one day follow my father on that journey where none can bear witness save the Holy Voice of God.
This time I could not bear to say good-bye to him. His duty as an officer will soon deliver him to a bleak and disintegrating land where love is a corrupted by-word and friendship and treachery are merely the twin sides of an opportunistic coin. For now, he returns to the anticipation of a new home and we remain in one too large and empty of the chatter that once sang throughout its walls. As the savor of this delicate chain of Christmas memories is diluted by the coming desperate months, I will be left to chronicle my love's battle for life, as her chemotherapy regimen soon ends and we must bravely await our fates that are inextricably bound together in anxious expectancy on the leeward side of Christmas.