Without her

She was gone, and I hung on the empty branches, stared at the moonless sky.

Gone for Christmas.

A tragic first.

I had myself, a ginger cat, and a younger brother.

I had the frost under my feet, cold bite on my finger tips.

We went for walks, my brother and I, around a lake, across a moor, up and down a few streets. Our lungs filled, our bellies prepared. Duck n’ pheasant. Christmas pud. Chocolate and grog.

It was hard. Thinking of her. Her excitement, and her sorrow. Finding treasure in a festive sock.

I’m on the periphery now, a family lost.

But I’m also moving forwards…

So we ate, and walked, and watched movies, my brother and I.

We sank into the sofas, forgot the hands of the clock.

And then she returned, and the Christmas Fairy came, and we did it all over again.

Treasure in a sock. Presents under the tree. A sherry-soaked ham hock. Puddle pudding n’ ice-cream.

And it was different and exciting, an adventure, just her and me.

Every hour we filled. With games. With family, with friends… Harry Potter on New Years Eve.

And I did it, God damn it. Got through that first Christmas…

…I could have kicked-up the wind, hurled the dirt, the game now changed, but I let her go, thought only of her. Shouts whoppers of the woman I am, the heart that I hold.

And this year, I have her.

Yes, I have her.

And it will get easier, the cycle of time.