It was 2002. I was living in my very first apartment and had my very own Christmas tree and ornaments. I was engaged and my fiance was in South Korea teaching English. He had sent a bunch of stuff so I was able to wrap some things up to put under the tree. I also had other things made to give to people. I had music playing, stuff I had downloaded. My tree was all decorated with snowflakes and icicles, and I had a large snowflake on top that glowed. I made coffee cake and coffee. My mom and dad came by with my younger sister, her husband, and his dad.
We all had coffee and coffee cake, a few presents were opened and we talked for a little bit before the men started talking about politics forcing us girls to my room to talk wedding plans. I was planning a wedding that would be two days after Christmas in 2003, a few months after my husband was due to return from South Korea. It was a nice, simple little get together and it's one of the last memories I really have of my parents that's a happy one.
Just over six months later, my entire life changed. My BIL was killed, shot to death by my father. Both him and my mother were incarcerated for the crime. The plans for my December wedding fell apart only to be quickly pieced together for an October 11 wedding date, bumped up to get my husband-to-be home sooner. Christmas hasn't been the same. My BIL's dad took us four kids in and considered us his own and these last seven and a half years, I have come to consider him more of a father than my father has ever been. He was there at my wedding. He was there shortly after my first daughter was born. And he came to see my second daughter as soon as he could after being released from the hospital where he was being treated for lung cancer.
Barring a miracle, this Christmas will be his last. He's been told he has six months to live. Tomorrow, everyone is getting together at his house. I will be there to be with him, sadness in my heart because I'm losing a parent all over again. And my girls will be losing a grandparent, the one and ONLY grandparent they have ever known.
And I can't stop thinking about that Christmas Eve eight years ago, when my parents, my younger sister, her husband and his dad all came to my apartment for coffee cake and coffee.