In my mind is an entire world of possibility. My imagination is powerful, fueled by years of dwelling in possibility and an endless faith in wonder.
As tremendous as it is, my imagination isn't always a happy, positive tool. Sometimes it runs in another, darker direction.
Just now, it ran down a road I would rather not travel, but I believe in allowing my imagination free reign, letting it go its course until it winds down. I believe this helps me to see how I would cope with...whatever.
In my mind, I saw a house. An ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood, decked with lights, wreath on the door, tree glowing in the living room window. There should be smoke curling from the chimney, music playing, laughter, cookies baking, but except for the tree, which is on a timer, the house is quiet and dark.
Dinner sits cold on the table.
Under the tree, wrapping paper glitters, ribbon curls, gifts wait for small hands to hold them, tear off the paper, press the sticky bows to little foreheads, wrestle open packaging and gleefully exclaim over the contents.
They have a long wait.
Two days ago, a man made a choice that changed everything for the occupants of the house in my mind.
The gifts so lovingly wrapped and placed beneath the tree will never be opened. They will sit, forlorn, until a broken-hearted mother or father puts them in a closet, unable to throw them away or return them. They'll be a silent reminder of loss.
Every room in the house in my mind misses the echoes of one voice. Every room is a little emptier, a little colder, because one person is not there to fill the space any more.
Under the tree are gifts wrapped by a mother who won't be there to see her child open them. The child will carefully peel off tape, gently open a box that Mommy touched before she was...gone...and that child will treasure the gift, whatever it is, all through life, carry it as a reminder of the parent who was a target for wrongness.
In the house in my mind are beds suddenly too large, too empty, too crowded with memory and loss. There is one too many places set at the table. On piece of pie left where none used to be. No one to bake that one special cookie or to throw the ball for the dog or hide their broccoli when no one is looking. There is an unfinished quilt at the sewing machine, an unfinished puzzle on the coffee table, an unfinished book on the night stand.
One house in my mind, multiplied over and over again, far too real in a far away place that is not in my head at all.