This Christmas morning is my first without my mom, Mae Tout. Last year she was home for two days from the hospital to spend her last Christmas with us. My mom had been suffering from renal failure for three years and her body could not take the dialysis anymore, so the doctors made the decision to stop everything, and call Hospice.

Mom had a good mind and she wanted to stay with us. That made everything so much harder for her and all of us who loved and cared for her. She passed away in January. There are so many of us who lost loved ones in 2011 and the first holiday without them weighs heavily on our minds. I miss my mom's voice, taking her shopping for Christmas in her wheel chair,or not having

A loved one sharing Christmas dinner at the table is a difficult thing. You miss their voices, their eyes looking at you. and the feeling of their presence in your life ... all empty now. You keep them on your mind in silence and go through the day missing them so much you just want to burst. I know that I want to hold her hands again and give her a kiss and look at her in my house today.

I know I want her at our table sharing Christmas dinner again and I want her to stay. But like myself, many are going through this Christmas for the first time without a mother, father, son, daughter, grandparent, or friend who all played a prominent role in our daily life.

For many of us, this year will end with the thought of grief still pinging in our minds and hearts. Auld Lang Syne will forever have our treasured loved one and steal away a part of us with them. Like so many others, a tear will still run down my cheek in the new year and craving the presence of my mom will still be a daily task in silence.

Mom, I miss you so much that there are no words to describe it all, especially at night before I drift off to sleep in bed, and when I am in a place we were together. For all of us who are taking their first journey this Christmas without our loved one, whether they were young or old, we still want to be near them, for it is not that long ago that they shared in our lives deeply.

All that we can do is keep them warm in our hearts and be glad for the times we shared with them, one way or another, and count them as a gift God gave us, and now we are left with untouchable memories. This certainly does not hold a candle to how much we want them to be sharing gifts, sharing a drink, sharing Christmas dinner at out table, and hearing them say our name. Sometimes this all seems surreal to me until I turn around and see that my mom is really not helping to decorate my tree and not being a part of this Christmas.

Bless everyone who has a hole to fill in their heart this season, and seasons past. Love is a beautiful thing, whether it is a person or a pet, and Christmas is a time in our lives that pulls us all together , even those we had to leave us. Today, we will enjoy Christmas and enjoy our family and the new memories that will be made today.

The sounds of children handing out gifts and eating our Christmas meal with hugs and kisses, and soaking in the feeling of warmth this Christmas as the hours pass, so that long after were are home we can look back and relive this day because that missing person was not forgotten.

She was a part of this Christmas which, in return, had us all enjoy each and every one of us more. Now, we are going to say goodbye to 2011, and the people who impacted our lives and enriched us with their life. They will not be a part of 2012, for Father Time moves forward when the clock strikes midnight and the New Year is ushered in.

People all over the world will be singing Auld Lang Syne, which means times gone by. Our loved one will always be a part of that song, but, not forgotten!!

Judy Williams,

Jim Thorpe, Pa.