Two Empty Stockings

The other day, we put up christmas decorations. As I adorned the tree with ornaments, I remembered how that last few years it was my mother and I who would decorate the tree together. At first I was decorating it all by myself, but my dad eventually came and helped me. I managed to keep my composure while we finished the tree together. I walked back to the box of christmas decorations and found all the christmas snoopy stuffed animals that my mom had. Snoopy was her favorite. I got misty-eyed as I carried one over to her urn and placed it near the vase of roses I put there a few days before. Then there were the stockings. As I hung the stockings over the fireplace I remembered last christmas when looking at my brother’s stocking knowing he would not be able to come home from christmas caused tears to stream down my face. Now there will be two empty stockings. Only one of them will never be filled again. As I stood there staring at them, thinking such things, I became confused. I wasn’t crying. Tearing up a little bit, maybe, but not crying as I did last year when I only missed my still-living brother. I felt a numbness. I wasn’t devastated. But why? I should have lost it. I should have been weeping. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my brother, not too long after my mother died. We were talking about how everyone expected us to always look sad and not to laugh or smile at anything. Or at least we felt like that’s what they expected. So we felt kind of guilty every time something made us laugh. That’s kind of what I’m feeling now. Like I should be mourning every second. Because my mother is a woman to be greatly missed. When I really think about this I do realize it’s not quite right, but for some reason it feels like it is. I know that my mother would want me to feel happy. I know that she wouldn’t want me to be in mourning all the time. I know that nobody expects that of me. I know that it’s not disrespectful to to be happy. I don’t understand why it makes me feel guilty.

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