As Kate approached the living room, she gazed at the beautifully wrapped gifts that sat under the tree, and although she tried desperately to blink back her tears, she failed. Fate had played an evil trick and reality hit hard. Christmas would never again be the same without Peter.
Two weeks earlier, she and Peter, her husband of almost forty years, had been decorating the tree and planning their holiday celebrations. Later that same afternoon, he suddenly collapsed while out having coffee with a friend. He was immediately rushed to County Medical Center by ambulance, but passed away before reaching the hospital, the result of an aneurism that had ruptured. And although Kate had received several invitations from family and friends, the sadness and grief she felt caused her to decline, deciding to spend the holiday alone. Their well-meaning gifts only contributed to her sadness, as she remembered Christmases past.
If only she had been with Peter when he collapsed…the thought constantly ran through her mind. She knew the outcome would have been the same, but somehow she would have felt better if he had known she had been by his side.
Peter and Kate had always been a close couple… closer than most, perhaps because they had never been able to have children, and had only each other to rely on. And because she did not have the opportunity to say goodbye, she felt as though their life together had ended unfinished.
“Peter, I miss you so much,” Kate sobbed, covering her face with her hands. “If only I could feel you close one last time.”
She jumped suddenly at the sound of a Christmas bulb as it fell from the tree and watched as the dog hurried away.
“Max!” She reprimanded, but before she could reach him, he dashed from the room.
As she moved to the tree to clean up the glass, she caught sight of something shimmering from one of its branches, and as she moved closer, she drew in a breath.
“Peter,” she whispered as she reached out her hand. There, on the end of the branch, hung a silver bracelet with a heart dangling from one of its links. As she took it into her hand, she noticed the heart was engraved with her name, and turning it over, she saw that Peter’s was engraved on the back.
“Why didn’t I notice this before now?” She wondered aloud, smiling through tears. And although her life would never again be the same, she would remember this Christmas in the years to come, holding it close in her heart until they were united once more.