My Christmas tree is up. It nearly didn't happen. Again. I had that moment where I didn't see the point, with the same questions I've asked myself for the preview two years since he passed.
I thought 'I live alone, I won't even be here on Christmas day - I'll be at my sister's house. It's so depressing to decorate a tree on your own, why bother?'. Yet tradition and ritual won out over the sadness I knew it would bring.
My tree is special to me. I decorate it with mementos and souvenirs that remind me of places I've been and people I love. Everything from gaudy, location-braded tourist-style decorations from different destinations mixed with beautiful ornate treasures given to me from friends and family.
I have been doing this for seven years now, since the Christmas I spent living in London, a world away from home. I add a few more decorations each year that I collected on holidays and special occasions, as my story grows.
Then there are the Daniel decorations. The 'just married' luggage tags one of his best friends had made as a wedding gift, the love sign he gave me on an anniversary and the pink wooden heart that was burried in the bouquet of flowers he had to delivered to me on the morning of our wedding. As I place these on my tree, my heart is heavy.
It feels like an empty ritual. A shrine to a life that we should have been living together. This isn't 'our' tree... it's my tree. The story of the life I've been living without him. And that really sucks.
The tree is beautiful, as I sit here tonight, gazing at its flickering lights. Yet its beauty can't stop the tears from falling.
I wish I had at least one year as his wife. We had two Christmases in our short time together. For the first, we were newly dating and it was a time filled with excitement, butterflies and hope. I still have the Christmas card he wrote me that year, back in December 2011, wishing me a happy holidays with my family and saying he had a feeling that 2012 would be a special year.
On our second (and last) Christmas together, we were newly engaged, planning a future and full of dreams. Deeply in love. We still didn't have a tree together though, as we were in the middle of moving in together.
So 2013 was going to be our first Christmas together as husband and wife. We were going to host the big family lunch at our home, the first of many. But instead, I was marking the five-month anniversary of being his widow, after only getting six weeks as his wife.
Is this why I feel like my Christmas tree taunts me? Would its pretty lights shine more brightly if he were here? Or would I just see it's beauty more clearly without these tears clouding my vision.
I'm proud of my story and I treasure the memories it holds for me but I can't help but wish it meant more. I wish it was our tree instead of just mine.
I miss you, my love. Oh, how I wish you were here.