Jane would always light candles during the holidays season. For her, that was the full month of December.
Her favorites were scented. She really liked pine or cinnamon, but sometimes she’d get peppermint or some other wintery scent. She tried to get strong-scented ones more often than not, and the aroma would fill the whole house.
Tim used to like watching it flicker. While he was littler she’d kept it out of reach, but once he was old enough, it returned to its old spot.
She was diligent about it, keeping it lit when she was at home and making sure that it was always supervised.
The candle had become an essential part of Christmas.
The first Christmas without her, Tom couldn’t bring himself to light it.
Jane had always lit it. Not him. Not Tim.
It felt wrong not having it lit. A part of the festivities was missing . Continuing Christmas without the candle felt pointless.
It collected dust, and looking at it was a harsh reminder that Jane was gone. He felt like he should light it.
Every once in a while, Tom would almost expect Jane to come up and light it and for everything to be okay again.
That didn’t happen.
A couple of times, he’d get a lighter and stand in front of the candle, but ultimately put the lighter away without using it.
He just couldn’t do it.
Christmas was plunged into darkness.
The second Christmas without Jane, Tom was with Becky.
Becky would catch him staring at a candle, eyes red. Tim didn’t seem to want to be around it.
She’d decided to investigate it, and found that it was green, pine-scented, and had obviously never been lit. She couldn’t initially find anything deeper- no reasons for the reaction she kept seeing.
“What’re you doing with that?” she heard Tom’s voice asking her.
She jumped back slightly, eyes wide, hands gripping it tighter to avoid dropping it. “Just looking,” she told him. “You, uh- You startled me.”
“She liked to light candles.”
Becky tilted her head. “Jane?”
A nod from Tom. “Yeah. She’d have one lit throughout December. She said it made the whole house more festive. The house isn’t really festive anymore without it, but…”
Becky nodded, letting the silence settle over them.
And later that day, she was lucky enough to catch his smile when he saw a tiny flame flickering atop the candle.