They were here again.
A gauntlet, they all lined up
And I faced them again without you
I dressed up this year
A brave war-like Klingon, with a long cape and war staff
And I remembered when I met you at the school bus
After a school trip when you were 13
I dressed up in an alien mask and a long black robe
All the kids on the bus were wondering, “Who IS that?”
Except for you – you knew who it was…
I stood there silently in front of the bus door, holding your mask and your cape
You were the last kid off the bus.
Without a word
You took the mask, put it on, took the robe and draped it across your shoulders
We got in our VW bug and drove away laughing all the way with kids cheering behind us
I did not cook this year
I went with friends to the Lake Forest Buffet at Harrah’s at Lake Tahoe.
As I looked out over the lake and had a shrimp on my fork,
I remembered you didn’t come over for that last Thanksgiving
It was the first Thanksgiving we were apart
But you were in love and Joyce wanted you at her family dinner
You said, “I’ll be home for Christmas.”
…but you weren’t.
I still can’t celebrate the whole damn thing.
The tree was finally up with only Star Trek ornaments.
The newsletters were written and mailed.
The god-daughters came over and made soap and hand lotion
They opened their mountains of presents.
I went to bed early.
Exhausted with keeping busy and preoccupied, so the pain couldn’t come.
I watched an around-the-world program
Alone and viewing what the rest of the world was doing.
I sat in my chair and watched people living it up
Drinking and laughing and trying to be noticed by the camera
Countries of happy people
Crowds dancing in the street
And I still knew there was one person missing
I went to bed late
Exhausted from the letting the pain in
Letting it go through me
I came out on the other side
Surprised that I was still somewhat sane
I woke prepared for another year ahead
With and without you.