Over the Christmas break I took some time off … pretty much everything. I didn't post much here or anywhere. I still captured a lot of photos – but my mind and attention were on my family.

Natalie prepared a fabulous candlelight meal Christmas Eve. As we sat in our dining room I noticed a place set for Mitch, right next to me … where he always sat. Never a chair felt as empty as that chair did that night. I didn't say anything, but I noticed it. I think everyone quietly noticed it. Sometimes, in the rush of routines, we forget and set six places at the dinner table. This time it was deliberate. This time it was quiet act of love, a yearning of the heart, that somehow our little son might join us, sight unseen. And if not, it served as a memorial to a little boy we all loved and missed – and whose company we dearly wished.

As we ate our meal, everyone took turns telling each other what we loved about one another. It was a tender time and I loved to hear my kids talk so kindly about their siblings. Sometimes when our children fight or argue, I worry. But alas, my heart swelled when I heard Laura-Ashley sincerely compliment her younger brothers; I was proud of Ethan as we listened to him offer thoughtful observations and gestures of love toward his siblings; and I loved to hear Wyatt express his love for everyone in his young, unique way. Natalie and I both took turns, too, telling our kids what we admired and loved about them. Of all the gifts we shared that holiday, the gift of love was chief among them.

At the end we all took turns saying what we thought Mitch might have said about each one of us. We giggled a lot and cried a little. It was a beautiful night. I took a photo of the candle at the table and thought about Mitchie's last Christmas, two years prior. I then began to think about how fast, yet slow, time has already passed and how grief is no less punishing today as it was the day of his passing. 

The truth about grief is it is a flame that cannot be extinguished. As long as I love, there will be fire. The difference is found in how I carry it. How I channel it. 

Grief can either burn me or help me see. I choose to see.