A friend came to visit and gave little David a present.
David told her:”Joey is away from home for a long time now.”
Then I realized he meant Joey might want a Christmas present too.
David:” Someday when Joey is home, he would say hey David, you’ve grown so much!” Then he told her, “But he is sick.”

Friend looked at me sadly, “David remembers everything.” Yes, he does. He also helps me pretend.

I pretend. I pretend every day and night.
I pretend Joey is studying at a boarding school in a foreign country and will be back soon.
I pretend he travels to a place where is so fascinating that he decided to stay there for a while.
I pretend he goes back to China and lives with grandparents.
I even pretend he was kidnapped by someone, but lives with another family in a remote village.

I pretend he is somewhere on this earth. Anywhere is fine, as long as he is alive.

But today is the day I can’t pretend. Because today is the day children, no matter how old they are and where they are, are back to be with their parents. Today is the day they reunite with parents, hug with parents, laugh with parents, no matter how far they are and what they do.

The empty seat at the dinner table says he is gone. The missing spot at the family picture says he is gone. Even little David realized there are no presents for Joey under the Christmas tree. He is gone, gone. I have no way to pretend, on the Christmas eve.

Christmas eve, I hurt most. But this doesn’t make me hate Christmas, because my greatest comforter, Christ, was born. I don’t need to pretend in front of him. I tell him all my suffering. I tell him some days I just don’t believe prayers because I see too many young lives gone. And he says, “I know all your pains. I’m crying with you.”

Tonight on the Christmas eve, instead of pretending, I say a prayer of thanks. I am grateful for my family not falling apart. I am grateful I could buy Christmas presents for Joey for 10 years. I’m grateful for all the memories. I’m grateful for all the good things after tragedy. I’m grateful for the thriving of survivors. I’m especially grateful for the work with Joey’s Wings.

Hopes and blessings of Christmas never die. I survived a year without him. If all the tears one could have in his or her life has a limit, next year I may cry less.

Tomorrow I would continue to pretend because it pulls me through the absolutely dark days without him. Miss you so much, Joey and happy Christmas.