I don't remember our first Christmas without my mother and baby brother.
We had had some time - nearly three months -- to settle into our "after" lives. I've often wondered how the adults pulled it off. I think they must have struggled mightily to create an ordinary Christmas. They probably all cried all day, probably alone, in separate bathrooms.
I think we were pretty well healed, physically, my brother and I. I had been back in my second-grade classroom for weeks. My brother, at four, was too young for school, but my grandmother took care of him all day.
There is one set of pictures that I know of, although they might have been from the next year. My second-grade teacher had made enormous paper-mache snowman heads for some school event, and she gave them to us, so there is a picture of the two of us in our living room, wearing those heads.
That's it. That's what I recall, and I don't even know whether it's a memory from the right year.
I wish that someone in my family had been like Robbie Parker, the father who spoke so eloquently of his little daughter. He wanted the world to know how she sparkled. How she sparkles.
I wish that someone had told stories like that about my mother and brother. I get why they didn't. When Josh died, we had to rely entirely upon the words of others. Ours were silenced by the horror of our new "after."
If I could say anything at all to the Sandy Hook families, it would be: Tell those stories.
Let those children and those women sparkle.