That’s how many times I’ve had to set up a Christmas tree since my son Skjel (pronounced Shale) passed away.
That’s how many Christmases we’ve celebrated and endured without a member of our family.
That’s how many times I’ve had to hang a stocking that won’t be filled for a boy who won’t see it.
It’s how many times my children have silently wept as they pull out the ornaments and see the ones with his name on it and are once again thrust into an active cycle of grief.
Seven times I will have slapped on a happy face and pretended that everything is okay on Christmas morning as I watch my kids rip open their presents.
Seven holiday seasons I’ve sat in a dark room with the lights from the Christmas tree twinkling festively and wondered how tall my son would have been, or what he would have looked like or what he would have laughed at on Christmas morning.
Seven seasons of walking a fine line to bury my own sadness and plastering on a happy face for my remaining kids. Seven holiday seasons filled with Christmas wish lists written by my smalls and every year they have the same request:
To have one more Christmas with their brother.
Seven seasons of wishing the same thing.
I wonder if I’ll ever stop counting the Christmases.