Seven Feet of White Lit Brilliance.

I’m sitting in my papisan chair, the one that must be balanced against a corner of my writing studio or it will undoubtedly revolt and topple me over or just plain throw me out. But when I’ve piled the pillows in order, when the center of gravity is perfect, and when stars align just right, this is a glorious place to sit.

Max thinks so too. From his perch behind my head, he can see for miles. He pretends like he owns the neighborhood. He’s very charming until he walks across my keyboard.

I put up my Christmas tree in this room that is circled in windows. The tree is narrow and artificial, seven feet of white-lit brilliance that shines down over the neighborhood, with an Ikea blanket piled underneath in a way that’s supposed to look cast aside and nonchalant.


The whole neighborhood can see my white tree. The boys and I checked on the way home, and you can actually spot it from three blocks away. It’s our declaration that Christmas is happening, here and now.

Robb would have hung all the outdoor lights by now. This house begs for new nail holes and hooks. The boys have many questions and big hopes for what the outside of our house might look like this Christmas.  I don’t know, guys.  I’m not making that decision right now.

Robb used to start hanging lights in October. And he would ask me to hold his ladder steady as he climbed up high. And I was always annoyed – he had interrupted me, I didn’t want the boring job of standing under him and hoping he didn’t fall on me, and I was probably dealing with some degree of score keeping or entitlement.

But he was afraid of heights. And he was decorating my home, our home. And when I was nearby, he felt safe. I was his security.

And I wonder why I didn’t just hold the ladder, why I didn’t partner with him for his favorite tasks of the year, why I didn’t encourage and appreciate his outdoor design, and why I didn’t choose joy.

Why didn’t you just hold the ladder for him, Tricia? That’s all he wanted you to do.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. So, so, so pretty!

  2. It makes me cry to hear you doing the same thing I’m doing after losing my 27 year old son a little over a year ago. We are both replaying old memories and finding the things we could have done better, and are punishing ourselves now for something that we can no longer change.
    Why didn’t I go out to dinner with him and his fiance after the wedding cake tasting on that last Friday night? Why didn’t I skip the Bar Class that I was on my way to and go pick him up on that last Saturday of his life when he called me for a ride? Why didn’t I call him when I got the text that said “I love you all, forever”?
    Why why why??? I can go crazy with the whys. I love the song by Casting Crowns “Already There”
    when they sing about someday seeing how all the pieces fit together when we get to heaven. I look forward to that day.

  3. I’m so sorry. So sorry that he died. You’re human – that’s why. 🙂 Your writing speaks to me in a way that no one else’s does. My husband and I are apart a lot. He works in Oklahoma and I live in Ohio with our children. If I’m honest with myself our marriage isn’t that great. He’s been traveling for work for 10 years. Sometimes I just sob. My heart hurts a lot. My 2 older boys have both moved out in the past year. I have a 17 year old daughter still here at home. I take her to school and pick her up and she comes home and goes in her room and shuts the door. Like I said I sob a lot. Life is hard. I smile and act like I’m a normal person and then when I shut the door to my house or my van I cry. I don’t feel normal. My husband will be home on Friday for the holiday and I want him to come home but his expectations and mine are usually different. I want him to hold me and tell me that everything is going to be alright and that he loves me so much. And usually a few days in he starts getting irritable and I start getting impatient – because we aren’t used to being in each other’s space. And we’re used to being alone. This visit I’m going to hold the ladder and smile. I promise! Thank you.

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