To be jolly? Is it? Sort of. I've always loved this time of year, but when you are missing part of your family, the holidays can be a little tough. There's my brother Rob, a C-17 Pilot, who is currently deployed. Sometimes it feels like my whole family (between the Hidalgo side and Nichols side) is never not deployed. But Rob is in the Air Force, and his last deployment involved scuba diving in Turkey. So while he's missed, he's also probably living the good life.
And there's Daren. Last year Daren spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in Afghanistan. His main concern over Christmas was that his Soldiers had a nice holiday -he asked his mom to send him coffee and a coffee pot for his platoon. That was typical of Daren. He was happiest when those around him were happy. And if he could help improve morale, he would. And he did. And we are going to really miss him this year. It will be the Hidalgo's first holiday season without their beloved son and brother and it will undoubtedly be tough.
And then there's Cale. No matter how many holidays (or normal days) pass us by, I will always thing that Cale should be here with us and wish that he was. It gets easier to accept that he's not, but at the same time my little family is not complete. Last year our Christmas card acknowledged Cale - we mentioned the son who was born and passed away too son. But this year I'm not sure what, if anything, to write (in regards to Cale). And the year after that? I'm torn on how to handle those things. I'm not sure how to keep my baby's memory alive and that scares me.
But those family members who are missing help (sometimes force) me to remember what the holidays are all about and what I have to be grateful for. Finley does that every day. And today I get to celebrate so many blessings that I do have. I'm so thankful for everything we have, it's just that I miss everything we don't. So I'll cling tight to my family this year and every year. Thankful for their service, their lives, and their memories.