“One night,” he told me
“But that is not enough ti-”
“One night,” he repeated.
Then with the snap of his finger,
I began to tumble down to the earth,
Swirling, and twirling through space,
Back to the place I had called home those short fifty years.
Within an instant I felt solid ground again,
And I was standing outside that old familiar house,
The same sturdy oak tree standing guard in the front yard,
And our lovely round Christmas tree showing off its festive attire in the bay window.
I looked down at my hands and feet,
Yet I only saw the wispy silver outline of my being.
“One night,” I heard the words sail through my mind again.
I walked up the long, narrow driveway,
Which was now occupied by a number of cars of all shapes and sizes.
When I reached the front door of the house I peered inside,
And the image I saw took my breath away.
There they all were,
Laughing, and talking as they celebrated the coming holiday.
My, how they had all grown!
My children, all five of them, were now adults with children of their own.
How much time had passed?
As children, from toddlers to teenagers ran about the house,
I tried to soak in as much of the beautiful celebration as I could.
Then my eyes rested on her,
My beautiful wife, Helen.
She was sitting at the piano playing “Silent Night.”
She had not lost her touch with the grand instrument,
As the soothing melody danced around the room,
And some of the family members joined in as the Christmas choir.
I was taken back to our wedding day,
When after the ceremony she sat down at the piano,
Still in her wedding gown, and we sang “Elmer’s Tune.”
How many more songs we could have sung together,
If that damn bottle hadn’t destroyed me.
I glided through the doorway,
And found myself in the middle of my family.
How much I wanted to wrap my arms around each one of them,
And never let go.
But time proceeded to sail away,
As they all celebrated together, ignorant of my presence.
I continued to move about the room,
Watching my beautiful children,
Desperately longing to be able to say just three words to all of them,
“I love you.”
But I remained mute,
A fly on the wall.
The house had not changed,
As I wished it never would.
Thousands of pictures were placed around the rooms,
So many memories without me in them.
How different life would have been,
Could have been,
I continued to watch,
Like a child experiencing the circus for the first time,
Transfixed on every moment.
Watching my grandchildren open presents,
Singing along as some of the family continued to sing carols,
Listening intently as they ate dessert and talked about the past years events.
At one point I wandered through the house into the kitchen,
Searching for my princess, my Tinkerbell.
She was standing in front of the kitchen sink,
Washing some of the leftover dishes from the Christmas meal.
I stood in awe of how much she looked like her mother,
Same gentle face,
The same deep brown eyes that seemed to see the world and beyond.
At one point she stopped washing the dishes, and looked out the small kitchen window into the backyard,
As a multitude of snowflakes fell from the heavy clouds above.
I moved over next to her,
And put my arm around her.
Suddenly she turned her head,
And looked directly at me,
Though I knew it was impossible for her to see me.
But she held her gaze,
Her great eyes searching for something.
After a minute she rubbed her eyes,
And looked out again at the vast field of white behind the house.
I began to shout, “I’m here! I’m here!”
But my darling daughter Karen,
Unable to hear my cries, just stood there in silence.
I frantically called out to her,
But I made no sound.
I tried to throw the newly polished dishes,
But they remained on the counter undisturbed.
I cried out to the Lord, “Why would you do this to me??”
When I heard my daughter whisper,
“I wish you were here dad.”
I stopped, stunned.
I saw a glistening tear fall from her soft cheek,
And I found I could not move.
The clock began to toll midnight,
And I could feel my body being pulled away.
With one final breath I said,
“I do too, honey. I love you.”
In that moment she turned and looked right at me,
And I smiled as God pulled back away into the heavens,
Karen tried to reach out to me but I was gone.
That was my Christmas wish,
To be a part of my family one last time,
One last time.