I slowly placed the garland on the mantle and the fresh and decorated wreath on the door. The tree shone brightly from the lights and carefully placed shiny bulbs. The smell of the evergreen was competing with the turkey and pies in the oven. My patient and loving sister was helping me through everything because this was the last thing I wanted to do. My bed was calling me, whispering in my ear that I should give in to my pain and nonstop fatigue. Then my mind would bring my children forward and remind me how much they needed me on this Christmas Eve. I continued with decorating the house and put on a face appropriate for this festive occasion.
It was the first Christmas that I, we, would celebrate since my youngest child had passed away, and the fourth without my husband, their father, after he was killed in a Metrolink derailment. The colors in my life were only shades of grey, unable to see the vibrant baubles or feel the joy that this day should bring.
The guests started arriving one by one. This year there were only close family members: My mother-in-law, sister, son Max, his wife Robyn and her mother whom I’ve known for the twenty years that they have been together. We became fast friends in that time. My words were tangled in my brain. I could not keep up with our conversation. During the lull, she brought out a little Santa bag and told me to open it. I have always appreciated her crafty side and couldn’t wait to see what was inside. It was a beautiful black and white spider attached to a card that told a story about a Christmas Spider and his friends that would come downstairs to see the beautiful Christmas tree. They ran up and down excitedly and left the tree with a dusty web. When Santa came, he turned the webs into silver and gold. That is why we use tinsel on our trees.
That lovely story was her way of letting me know that things may not shine or shimmer through my eyes now, but there will be a time when the dark colors in my life would become even more brilliant and sparkly than ever before.
I keep my spider hanging up all year round. At first to give me hope that the day would come. And I keep it up to remind me of how much things have changed for me. It is such a small gift that she made for me, but there was love and tenderness in every bead.