Once upon a time, in a land that seems so far away… there were a pile of Musto’s that all lived under the same roof, celebrated holidays and birthdays together and ate dinner in our dining room. Wow does it look different now. The pile has gotten much smaller only 3 out of 5 of us live under this roof… 2 of those 3 head out to another roof to be a split up separate family there. Those moments are ever more visible and tangible in the holidays… memories and traditions bring back vivid pictures and thoughts and hurting… alongside smiles and warmth. It is very clear that something is missing this holiday season… something big.
Last year there was hope for ‘we’ in our marriage, so Christmas was full and still looked mildly similar to other years. This year I have no hope for a marriage, but excitement for some new normal. It feels good not to be in a limbo… maybe even a game, I don’t know. It feels fresh to just start over this year. I am trying to do what feels good for me and the girls and make sure we bring bits of old in, with our new family-under-our-roof. I am trying to be supportive and positive about the new in their family-under-the-other-roof. I want them to find a new normal with Matthew. Nothing looks the same… but for the first time since Madeline is gone and Matthew has moved on I am excited and ready and taking in all of this. We set out to get our tree… a tradition that I melded to work into our smaller clan. Traditionally we have a photo of Matthew walking with the tree and first year Madeline, then Madeline and Amelia… then Lucy. It was a big tradition, I always felt so proud to share. I am proud this year… though it stings a bit.
This year there will be no cards, I am still not there yet. There is no grand holiday letter to share and photos that I am ready to be put up on your cabinets. I did make a big jump, I feel, in the taking pictures department. I actually signed up to have my girls pictures taken. I have not had the girls pictures taken since Madeline was alive, professionally. I didn’t want to. I couldn’t figure out how to pull Madeline into them, and not feel like she was missing. She is missing. Amelia and Lucy are still growing. Amelia and Lucy need to have their growth and changes documented. Someday I will want to look back and see those things that are different from then to now… those things that have changed. For now… it feels like a big freakin’ hole of missing. Sometimes it feels just fine, but for some reason pictures of the girls feel like they are missing something- an awkward and smiling 8 year old. I feel like I made a big jump even though it was scary. So one night I jumped on a spontaneous mini session with my lovely Kidography. She was funny and easy… and assured the girls that she could edit out the big knee of mud that Lucy managed to get… I loved the pictures. I love the JOY… I felt like that was a bright addition to photos missing someone. How did I pull Madeline into this one… I couldn’t find a good thought for an outfit. I didn’t want to go all Christmas with PJ’s and traditional holiday. I didn’t want fancy, fancy dresses. I wanted simple and ‘Musto’. I remembered a set of Land’s End fair isle sweaters that I ordered for Madeline and Amelia. I meant for them to wear them for holiday things the year before Madeline passed. Madeline was a pain in the butt about clothes. I feared her throwing a fit about the sweater being itchy or something so… I bought a set of dresses and went that route. I still have these sweaters in the girls closet. I couldn’t seem to put them away. I had hopes that Amelia and Lucy would wear them. I had forgotten about those two sweaters… until then. Though they were a little too small we compromised and got under clothes to show off the sweaters as shirts… not tunics :). So in a way a bit of Madeline, Madeline’s sweater, was in those pictures… and they came out awesome. I am thankful for this help in documenting life right now. As hard as it is to see the missing… it is important to bring this into the future too.
Even in the missing, there is joy and warmth and love and people and life and adventures. Even in the dark we find light… in the missing we keep moving and growing.