We ate mashed potatoes and drank wine and had our family photos taken.
It felt odd sitting there just the two of us when there should be four of us. I plastered a fake smile on my face and tried to look festive.
But I felt far from cheerful. What is a family photo, without a family?
It was a wonderful Thanksgiving, but they were missing.
We watched our niece and nephew run and giggle while playing hide and seek. For a brief moment, I pictured our boys running and playing with them, but the image quickly faded and the grief returned. They should be playing with their cousins, but in the life I’m living, the wrong life, they were not.
They were missing.
We went home and decorated our tree and put on our new Charlie Brown Christmas record.
They were missing.
They are missing every day, but during the holidays, nothing is more apparent than the fact that our twins will always be missing. No matter how much fun we try to have and how much we try to move forward, our family is not complete.
I feel like I am living the wrong life.
The life I should be living features a family trip to the Christmas tree farm to pick out the perfect tree together.
Our tree is plastic and made in China. I hang the ornaments I have collected for our twins alone and in tears.
The life I should be living has a Christmas fund with money put aside from each check, savings to give our boys a wonderful Christmas.
The fund we have is for my therapy sessions, that grow more frequent as the holidays near.
The life I should be living is filled with sticky candy cane kisses, matching Christmas pajamas, and a family trip to Busch Gardens Christmastown.
No one eats candy canes in this life I am living, so they hang on the tree. There are no sticky messes to clean up, no chocolatey fingers or candy cane kisses. There are no school Christmas plays to attend, gingerbread houses, or Christmas morning giggles.
My pajamas are too tight from the baby weight I gained and STILL have not lost. Our family is currently on a holiday trip in the Caribbean, but we had to stay home because we are saving money for IUI, or IVF, or adoption, or whatever path we may have to take to become a REAL family.
We used to go to Christmas Eve mass with our family. We haven’t gone since the twins passed away. Christmas mass is for happy families and dressed up children looking forward to putting cookies out for Santa and presents. Not for childless couples holding back tears.
We don’t belong there.
Sometimes I feel like we don’t belong anywhere.
The life I should be living is the one I dream of every day. Not just during the holidays.
Oh, how I wish they were here.
Then we could sing Jingle Bells and when singing “Oh what fun,” we would actually mean it.
Instead, I am stuck in this life.
The wrong one.
And I dream of them.
If only Santa could grant just one wish…If only I could live the right life.
Oh, what fun.
Photo by Ander Burdain on Unsplash