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The Last Gift

She sat alone in her darkened living room looking out onto the cold street.  It was lit up by her neighbor’s festive Christmas lights and the comings and goings of cars.  Christmas Eve was always that way.  This year however, her house was quiet.  She hadn’t been able to bring herself to even set up a tree.  The box sat un-opened under the stairs.

 

Her husband had loved Christmas.  He had always insisted that the tree be up by December 1st.  She recalled his booming voice shouting merry Christmas and how he was always more excited than the kids.  But she would never hear his voice again.  In April he had been diagnosed and by September he was gone.  This was her first Christmas in 47 years without him and her heart ached.  Kindly visits by neighbors and friends had helped but it was she who had to endure these long dark nights alone.  And tonight, Christmas eve, was the worst.

 

In years past, all the light would be on, the fire would be roaring and carols would singing from the record player.  Maybe the kids would be arriving and a ham would be baking in the oven.  As she thought of times past, she couldn’t hold back her tears.  But she had no one to hold her or to comfort her now.  She was alone in her grief.  She understood why the kids weren’t able to come home this year and she knew she’d have felt better if she had been able to put up their little tree but she just couldn’t do it.

 

Deep in her memories, she hadn’t noticed the delivery truck stop in front of her house and the door bell had startled her.  The smiling young man set down a medium sized box and a larger heavier bag.  He had her sign the slip, gave her an envelope and wished her Merry Christmas as he walked back to his truck.  While she was wondering what this was all about, she heard a whimper behind her coming from the box.  Lifting the lid, she was surprised to discover a puppy.  She lifted the puppy from the box and sat down in her rocker with the dog on her lap.  She opened the envelope and saw, in her husband’s own hand writing, these words.

 

Photo courtesy of thesnowpea

Dear Flo,

 

Merry Christmas!  I knew this would be a hard Christmas for you so when it was clear that I wouldn’t be here, I arranged for a little company for you.  I hope you like him!  I want you to remember all the great times we had together and to really remember how much I loved you.  But I don’t want you to stay in the past too long darling.  If you think you could, I’d like it if you’d put up our tree and play a few Christmas carols.  Even though I’m gone, I hope you can have a merry Christmas.

 

Love, Bob 

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