My daughter kept in touch from upstate, where she was spending Christmas with her boyfriend's family. She sent me this picture of her and her love in matching jammies with Nina, the dog they sit for every Christmas. That helped. Meanwhile my niece was at her new love's house, meeting his whole family for a holiday meal. Her happiness carried us through opening presents the next morning, and then I climbed back into bed, binge watching season three of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (loved it), and crying in between. I thought of my cousins in Jamaica, living through their first Christmas without Aunt Grace. It was reason enough to cry. I texted a dear friend, a soul to whom I could tell the whole truth of the dark place I was in. That let in some light.
My son was coming over later. As a newbie firefighter, he had to work the holiday. My niece's new boyfriend would also be joining us for dinner, as well as a young woman who is one of my heart daughters, and a gentleman friend of hers. My husband, bless him, was cooking the meal for us all, while my niece was baking a cake. No one was requiring anything of me, I had it easy, so why was I wallowing? I made myself get up and shower, and afterward, while playing Dvorak's cello concerto in B minor, performed by the incomparable Jacqueline du Pre, I began packing for our upcoming trip to Jamaica. The music and the activity lifted my spirits a bit, and then I heard my niece, who is a wonderful cellist, start playing Christmas music in her room. So I turned off my recorded music to listen to the live music in my house, and that lifted my spirits even more.
I went into her room to tell her how beautiful it was, and she offered to play me the theme music for Game of Thrones, which she had been wanting the score for, and which I gave her for Christmas. She might not know it, but those wailing chords pulled from her instrument finally melted the bubble of sadness around me.
My son came in soon after. He had caught a huge fire on 69th Street earlier in the day, his engine was the first on scene, and he and his fellow firefighters were inside that flaming top floor apartment, dousing the inferno. Thank God no one was seriously injured as they got the flames under control. He was exhausted but exhilarated when he got here, showing us the response video and pointing out exactly which window he was inside of, as bright orange fire licked out of it. They opened up a hole to the roof to vent it (if I'm getting it right), and that conflagration on the roof at about 6 minutes into the video is what he and some of his squad put out, while other members tackled the fire shooting through the front windows. You can see my son at 17:53 after the fire’s out and he’s exited the building. I have to not think too deeply about what a day at work is like for him. I told him he'd performed a great Christmas Day service in taming that flame.