Every celebration or family gathering is like a burning ember.

It feels warm to the touch while filling us with brightness and comfort. We gather around, closely, cherishing the moments. Time spent catching up, relishing times past and futures to behold.

They mean so much more to all of us now.

Ryan is missing. One less seat at the table. One heart painfully absent. He is the first to take his leave. As the years pass, others will join until there are none left. That is the way of it. We understand the cycle of life and yet we don’t.

The ember burns hot and tender if left unattended. We shall never make that mistake again.

Our family is together now, not quite as whole but evermore grateful.

We have relearned the blessing of being a family. Our shared pasts will be forged to create new beginnings. A collection of memories that are precious.

For us, family is joy. For us, family is everything.