Home for Christmas

Home for Christmas


A film that covers three days where scenes are sequenced backward and the story unfolds in reverse, ala “Memento:”

Christmas Eve, 2022, we were on the phone with a funeral home making arrangements. The day before that, I was sitting at my dad’s kitchen table playing Rummikub with him when we got the phone call. The evening before that, Joey died.

Our son was hit by a car and killed three days before Christmas. How could I ever face another Christmas? I’ve had that recurring thought like so many intrusive thoughts and images over this past, impossible and possible year. I felt my stomach turn at the first sight of a decorated tree at Costco—in September. From then on I’ve been averting my eyes and plugging my ears to muffle the carols.

A few weeks ago, I mis-tapped on my iTunes library, and Michael Bublé’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” filled my unsuspecting ears. Before I could slap the song off, I felt the stab of the first line.

No, he wouldn’t. Joey would not be home this Christmas or any other Christmas. Get used to it.

He’ll be home for Christmas only in my dreams.

And just like that, I heard it another way.

“No, you don’t understand, he is HOME.”

In many moments, that notion has sustained me.

I’ve been told more than once that he’s HOME.


I miss him terribly.

I know I’m not the first mom to lose a child, but I’ve never lost one before. It’s not like I had a plan, “If I lose a child, this is how I’ll cope. I’ll let people be privy to my pain, at least some of it. I’ll be honest about how crushing it is and in doing so, maybe it will help.” One day Joey was alive and the next, he wasn’t. So that next day, and the next, and the next, I just did what felt “natural” in an excruciatingly unnatural place.

Your loving responses to the broken words I have chosen to speak over these past 362 days have helped me function in this unnatural place. I have been comforted by you.

People ask me how I’m doing. I usually say, I’m still riding and writing, which means I’m still breathing.

I couldn’t bear to put up a tree this year, not with the minefield of mementos it would display. I’ve been dreading this Christmas since last Christmas and in three days, it’s Christmas. I can’t change that and even if I could, of course, I wouldn’t. The truth behind the lit trees, the clinking glasses, the mailboxes filled with red envelopes, the how-many-shopping-days-left-reminders, etc., has really nothing to do with any of that. The truth is simple and supreme: the soft flesh baby that burst onto the scene and changed everything.

If you can believe it.

I hope your Christmas has sweet peace and presence, in the most natural, warm way.

I hope mine does, too. I can’t rule out that it’s possible.

I’m open.

Today marks one year since Joey left us.