This is the third year without my husband Thom by my side. The third year without Christmas morning and the third year without the kiss under the mistletoe bringing in the new year.
It’s the first day back to school and the third year without my husband helping with the chaos of getting the kids ready.
“Mom,” I hear Jaime yell from down the hollow hall, “have you seen my new backpack grandma gave me for Christmas?”
“Did you check under the tree?”
“Oh, duh, thanks.” I hear the pitter-patter of her steps descend the stairs below.
“No, it’s mine. Grandpa gave them to me.”
Now it’s a tug a war with my boys. Gah, will it ever end? “Tommy, let your brother have the controller. You’re five years older than him. Besides, grandpa gave that to the both of you to share.”
I put my finger up. “Do not argue with me young man. You’re to set the example. Now, give it to your brother. Besides, you should be getting ready for school.”
“Fine, take it!” He shoves the toy into Kevin’s chest, knocking him down.
My five-year-old begins wailing. I’m about at my wits end with these children fighting.
“Thomas Riley, you come back here and apologize to your brother right now.”
Jaime comes rushing up the stairwell. “Mom, it’s not there.”
I pick up my youngest child and try to console him. “It has to be around here somewhere. It didn’t just get up and walk away. Why don’t you use your old backpack for now?”
“But mom, it’s so yesterday’s style,” Jaime protests.
I give her the “look.”
She stomps to her room and slams the door.
“Just another day in the life of a Williamson’s household,” I whisper. Kevin still whimpers in my arms, and I wipe the tears that come down his cheeks.
“Life was so much simpler, easier when you were here, Thom,” I say, as though he’s in the room with me. Sometimes I feel his presence, but I know it’s not possible. I’ll never forget when they came to my door with the news. Devastation hit me that day. I would like to believe he’s moved on, but how does one really know? Will the pain ever leave me?
The doorbell rings.
Who could that be at this hour of the morning?
I hear my kid’s race from their rooms and run down the stairs to see who it is.
Setting Keven on his feet I exclaim, “Do not open it! You don’t know who it is.”
I follow the kids down the stairwell as they wait patiently giggling and whispering.
Tommy peeks through the side window.
“Who is it?” Jaime asks.
My older son gives me a startled look and shrugs his shoulders. “Some man is standing outside. I can’t see what he looks like. His back is facing the door.”
Our dog, Captain, begins barking from the living room, and moseys on over with his tail wagging like a puppy. He’s twelve years old, so, his walk is a snail’s pace. We got him right after Jaime was born. This is unusual for Captain to bark. Labradors make great family pets, but not great guard dogs—at least in our family.
Tommy takes him by the collar. “It’s okay boy.”
“We will be fine. Stand aside and let me open the door, children.”
The kids wait in anticipation. I’m sure it’s because no one ever comes around to our neck of the woods. The seclusion alone would detour most anybody. We don’t even get trick-or-treaters during Halloween.
When I open the door the man immediately turns around. “Hello Eve.”
I go sheet white, and if it wasn’t for my two older kids, I think I would have dropped to the floor in shock. I allow myself to catch my breath.
“Daddy, is that really you?” Jaime asks.
©2020 Emmy R. Bennett