So there we all were, gathered once more, snacking on shrimp cocktail and olives, just waiting for the turkey. We catch up on all the little things we don't get to say every day, laugh at all the same stories that never get old, marvel at the new babies that'll make Christmas more fun this year. And just when it seems as perfect as it can be, half of us are simply...gone.
I never saw the signal. I don't watch for it anymore. But suddenly a group got their coats and went outside and I kind of looked around in bewilderment for a second.
In just over a month it'll be one year quit for me. It's surreal. Even when I said it out loud yesterday it didn't seem like a real thing. One person said "wow, that's amazing", and it is, but doesn't FEEL amazing. It just feels...normal.
I guess that's why I was so surprised when the smokers went outside. I don't expect it anymore. It's no longer part of my own experience. My new normal is to stick around and talk and eat shrimp cocktail and olives. My new normal is to talk and laugh and not worry about where my coat is so I can grab it quickly, checking the pockets for cigarettes.
So one minute I'm talked to two sisters-in-law, and then it was just one, and I thought, "Hey where'd she...? Oh..." And it was a little bit sad. But only a little bit.