For the first ten Christmases (and Easters, and Thanksgivings) of my daughter's life, she has been safe and loved within our extended, chosen family. This will be the first celebration of her life when that circle of love will be diminished by one. Our beloved Jutta will not be with us. She is dying and is not likely to be alive. At Thanksgiving we all said our goodbyes. We held each other. We cried. We said, "I love you." My daughter was part of all of that. But she has never lost a family member to death.
This Christmas will be different. There will be one less place setting at the table. There will be one less present for us under the tree. There will be things spoken and things left unsaid. There will be one less source of love in the room.