he was there

In the time since I started dating Cortney eight years ago, I have only had one Christmas with his dad.

The first year we were together, Cort and I had only been dating a few months, so we decided not to try to cram family Christmases on each other.  I didn’t go to either of his parents’ houses and he didn’t come to mine.  It’s not like we didn’t know each other’s parents.  We were 25 years old, dating for 3 months, but we had known each other for most of our lives.  We just decided not to make things crazy at Christmas that year.

The following year we were engaged.  We did the Big Christmas Run Around.  We did all the parents and all the grandparents and it was hectic, but fun.  I was glad I was about to join such a loving, awesome family.

It was the only Christmas I ever had with Cort’s dad.

And I just realized that I can’t remember it.

Well not much of it.

I have no idea what we had to eat, but I am sure Cort’s stepmom, Lynne, had crab dip and shrimp cocktail.

I do know that I brought cream puffs because they were Steve’s favorite.

I don’t remember the gifts.

I do remember all of us kids cramming onto the couch in the basement in front of the fireplace until Steve decided it was time to shoot pool.

I don’t remember all the funny things that were said or even if my sister-in-law, MacKenzie had a boyfriend at the time.

I do know she wasn’t dating her husband yet, though.

What I remember are the laughs and the joking and how my father-in-law-to-be made me feel like part of the family in a way no one had yet.

And looking back, he was less than a month from finding out he was sick.

He had no idea he wouldn’t see another Christmas.

Every Christmas since then, we have all gotten together with Lynne.

Tonight, we hosted the get together.

As I looked around I saw Steve’s three children.  All married and extremely happy.  All joking and teasing each other and laughing.

I saw three of his grandsons and felt the fourth kicking around on the inside.

I saw us embracing his wife and loving her and keeping her a part of the family.

And I felt him there.

His oldest son giving his only daughter parenting advice.  His youngest son making his oldest grandson giggle.  His daughter fitting the role of “momma” so well to his new grandsons.

There was warmth.

There was a feeling of family.

Because he was there.