I dusted off the video camera last weekend when we went to my parents' house for Thanksgiving. Haven't used it in a while and thought I might get a chance over the holiday, especially with my niece and nephew joining us. It didn't take long for them to start playing and even singing me a very funny version of "Old McDonald."
Last night I sat down alone and decided to watch it - lots of laughs. As I was putting the camera back in its bag I noticed another tape sitting at the bottom. I popped it in and watched some movies I recorded in the summer of 2005 - my niece's dance recital, my stepson's baseball team winning the championship, and my niece and nephew's birthday party. As I watched the events of the party, I heard something that sent chills throughout my body. It was her voice. She wasn't on camera, but I could hear her talking. Then all of a sudden, there it was - the laugh. Her laugh. A laugh like no other. I listened to it over and over, only stopping for fear that I would wear out the tape and never be able to hear it again. Tears came to my eyes, but at the same time I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing at her laugh.
I miss her a lot - especially now with the holidays upon us. We had our first Thanksgiving without her and soon it will be the first Christmas - a holiday that I so associate with her. For as long as I can remember we spent Christmas Eve at her house. Even as a little girl I would sit with her in her kitchen as she got dinner ready. As I got older, she let me help her put the food in the dishes and bring them to the table. Even after the fire in 1999, she insisted that she host Christmas Eve dinner in her tiny apartment she shared with Grandma while they waited for the home to be rebuilt. Last year we celebrated at her house again, all secretly hoping that the chemo that she endured would put an end to her cancer. This year we will celebrate at my sister's house - no one can bear the thought of spending the holiday at her house without her there. Without her laugh.