It just happened again, not to the same extent as that very emotional other time, but of some significance nonetheless.
When Butterfly left for university, I reacted very emotionally. I hadn't expected to. But when she hugged me goodbye, I fell apart and sobbed convulsively.
Something like that just happened again tonight, not to nearly the same extent, but it caught me unaware and resulted in a few tearful gulps.
Quite simply, Butterfly called to wish us a Happy Christmas Eve. As we talked, I realized that we had never before been apart on this night: this night that has always been very special in our family. It's not that we have celebrated this eve in outstandingly wonderful or particularly memorable ways, but we have always been together. We have talked, laughed, sung and/or listened to carols, played games, gazed upon the tree, gone for drives or on walks to see the lights and decorations, read or listened to Christmas stories, and sampled freely from a plethora of snacks: unusual cheeses, sundry crackers, all sorts of biscuits, several varieties of chocolates, exotic dips and spreads, and untold varieties of salty snacks.
It doesn't really matter of course, what we ate or did. It only matters that we were together (as trite as it may sound) in the spirit of peace, goodwill, caring, and sharing.
It was when she called tonight, that I suddenly realized that this was to be the first Christmas Eve that we have ever been apart since she entered the world as our Christmas miracle many years ago.
I shed tears because something fundamental has shifted. Christmas will never be exactly the same. It may be wonderful, but it will be different. Something will be gained, and something will be lost. It was the sudden realization of loss that caught me unaware and caused a lump to form in my throat and few salty drops to escape my eye.
It wasn't exactly sorrow that I felt, for we shall be together in a few days, and we shall celebrate our own Christmas Eve then. But, tonight, on the night that the calendar marks as Christmas Eve, everything is different; there's been another shift in my life: another passage on our relentless march to the final one.
Whatever tears I shed are really of joy for times past. My cup has been full to overflowing. I am fortunate and blessed. Even now as I sit here and type these few thoughts, daughter #2 asks about my Christmas memories, and I ask of hers. Cuppa sits with us sharing her reminiscences.
All is well except for that shaded corner which shall be filled with light in just a few short days hence.