Within a couple of days, Brendan and I started talking about when we would see each other again. It was the first week of December so Christmas shopping and decorating had just barely begun, and Brendan felt a little lost regarding what to do. In the past, he had relied on his wife, who had all things for Christmas purchased, wrapped and ready to go by September. The first Christmas after her passing, Brendan had little to do as she, in her usual manner, had already completed most of the shopping and preparations, but this year he was on his own. As we discussed his situation, I offered some ideas that I had found helpful to me. I wondered if there was anything I could do for him from where I was, but obviously my options were limited. Suddenly, Brendan threw out a question.
“Do you think you would be willing to come here for Christmas?”
Heart stopping thrill and an onslaught of my own questions made me speechless.
“REALLY? Well…I…hmmm…,” I stumbled over my thoughts and words.
“That would be amazing, but I can’t be gone for Christmas. There’s no way I wouldn’t be with the kids. I don’t think I could do it. I just couldn’t.”
“I get it. I wouldn’t want to be apart from my kids on Christmas either.”
“I mean, they are adults, and I’m not sure the boys will even be here. Chris is in Reno, and I’m not sure about Josh. I know Vici has Logan, but still she’d miss our family traditions like baking and stockings. And Ashley’s still just getting her life back together and already struggles with me being in a relationship. Can you imagine if I left her for Christmas?”
I tried to make it feel right in my heart, but I had never been away from them at Christmas, and I just couldn’t bring myself to be okay with it. It was one thing to have them move away as adults or share time with me and their in-laws, but quite another for me to toss away all of our special family time.
“What if I came now, but then flew back home in time for Christmas?”
Brendan agreed, and we checked out flights. Christmas is in the middle of summer there so tickets aren’t exactly cheap, but when we found a reasonable deal that would give me an almost two week visit we snatched it up.
“What do you think, darling? Can you be ready to leave in three days?”
I laughed. Me? The crazy non-traveler?
“Only by God’s grace and a miracle! But I’d better start right this minute.”
My mind raced with all the things I had to do here, whether I could get enough accomplished and what shopping I could do in Australia.
“I’ve got to tell the kids, finish shopping, pack and find a ride to the airport. Thank goodness we have a lot of Carol’s wedding stuff already done. Will you book the ticket?”
“Doing it as we speak, beautiful girl.”
“Wow, Brendan! Nothing like jumping into the next step. Here we go! I’m so excited. And a little panicked! I love you. Talk to you later. Bye.”
I took a deep breath and grinned with a tear in my eye.
“Carol!!” I called down the hall. “Guess what? I’m going to Australia! In three days!”