She sits in the glider rocker by the Christmas tree. I sit across from her, firmly holding down my spot of floor. Around us sit three generations, some mine growing older, most younger growing up. Voices chatter around us despite the laps filled with plates laden with food.
But I hear nothing...only the words she doesn't speak.
The matriarch of the family for years now, she has buried three younger brothers. The middle one is my dad. The oldest and youngest a year apart, not enough years ago, and I see it. I feel it. Despite the full house, it is painfully empty.
"Aunt Bobbie," I call through the hubbub, "thank you for letting us invade your house again."
Her eyes twinkle with a sincere smile. "Oh, Sis, I'm glad to. We like having everybody here."
"But the ones who aren't here are hard."
The voices go instantly quiet, and somehow the room disappears, and it is the two of us...a generation apart...in the same place.
I know all too well the ones who are here are a joy. The ones who aren't here...are hard.
She nods. "Yes. I was just thinking about..."
And she talks, and I listen.
And the silence lets us.
She tells me about things she misses and plans they had. Her voice trails, and I fight the mist blurring her and say simply, "And it wasn't supposed to be like this."
She looks at me. Found. And I force a smile.
"No, Sis, it wasn't supposed to be like this."
"And some moments are just really hard." I say for us both.
"Yes, some moments are really hard."
"I had a day this week when I felt like I cried all day." I invite her in...into my day...to share her day...to let our days and tears merge...to take her hand from across the room...from across the generation gap.
We really are not that far apart in this same place together.
She nods, and her eyes wander thoughtfully. "Yeah, I had a day like that this week. I don't remember what day it was, but I cried a lot, too."
"Some days are like that."
She breathes in deep and looks down and away, memories tender. "Yeah, some days are."
"I understand," I say softer so the crack in my voice isn't obvious.
Her eyes look into mine again...into me again..."I know you do, Sis. I know you do."
And there is no gap...just two women in this place of being thankful for what is...missing what is not...emotionally fumbling in the tension between the two...comforted to be here...together.