Ellie helped Sara make the final preparations for dinner while Jack, David, and Anne went to the living room with the tired children, watching over them as they lay down for a nap by the Christmas tree, covered in one of Emily's hand-knit afghans.
"Everything smells so good," Ellie said as Sara popped the ham into the oven. The scalloped potatoes, buttered carrots, and Brussels sprouts waited on the counter for their turn in the heat. "You must have been cooking for days."
Sara smiled. "I love to cook. It keeps me sane."
"It's therapeutic," Ellie agreed. "When Danny died, I baked for a week. Chocolate chip cookies, layer cakes, banana bread. I had so much food I had to give it away."
"But it just distracted me from the pain. When I ran out of ingredients, I fell apart."
Sara took her hand. "That's understandable. You were in shock. Now, I'm not going to tell you it will get a little better each day, or some other pabulum. It may not. But with time you will move forward, away from the pain. You'll have your new baby, and perhaps a new home and job to look forward to. You'll never forget Danny. You'll always love him. But you'll spend more time thinking of the happy times you had together, and not the sadness."
"Thank you. No one has told me that. Everyone keeps telling me to snap out of my grief, but I just can't."
"No one can. You take as much time as you need. It isn't anybody else's business. Take care of yourself and the children and live one day at a time."
Ellie pulled a tissue out of her sleeve and wiped away her tears.
"Why don't we see what everyone else is doing? Dinner will be ready soon," Sara said. They left the kitchen, leaving behind the day's melancholy.
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