Was the first Christmas after my father died.
Every logic and emotion would have predicted it should have been the worst but every logic and emotion would have got it wrong.
He had been living with cancer. I won't say fighting or struggling or any of the words people usually use when a relative dies following a diagnosis of cancer. Neither will I use words like 'passed away' or other euphemisms.
He was diagnosed with cancer, he took all the treatments available to him and if he could have been cured I know he would have wanted to be cured - but in the time between diagnosis and death - he lived with cancer. And we lived with him, living with cancer.
He made the best of it and there were bad and good days. When the last day came he was ready. There was a real sense of him having packed his bags ready for the next stage.
In the past I had talked about dying with him and he had asserted that he did not believe in an afterlife and that dead was dead. Once the diagnosis was made we didn't talk about death. He knew the terror it held for me.
How many times had I come down at night as a small child and sat next to him watching football on tv? Unable to sleep because of 'the usual worry' and thankful for the everyday mundanity of a game I never understood and the comforting presence next to me of the man I believed to be the wisest person in the universe. I didn't get told off and eventually I would doze in the chair, lulled by equal measures of boredom and security.
The hospice had a similar atmosphere. Warm, boring and peaceful. He hadn't spoken for a while and the only sounds were his laboured breathing. We'd said our goodbyes and all that was left was the waiting.
Then the moment came. As I watched, the figure on the bed changed from the man I knew, my father, into a stranger. It was a matter of seconds but if I had been shown the stranger on the bed without having watched the transformation I might not have recognised him.
The stranger was like a carved beautiful statue of the sort one sees of knights on altar tombs. What had made that vehicle my own precious Papa was gone.
The feeling I had was the same as the moment my son was placed in my arms for the first time. A deep sense of wonder and awe and as if in the corner of my consciousness somewhere I'd been privileged to witness something miraculous.
I don't know if my father was right about the afterlife. I have felt his presence with me often since then. But he would probably say that is no surprise since half of me is made of him in the first place.
The first Christmas was a matter of weeks after he died. We went back to the house in Hampshire to finish packing it up ready to leave it for the new owners; we were moving back to live in Wales to be near my mum.
So there we were - me, hubby and Sprog. Sprog was ten. We'd told him there would be no presents or fuss. But right at the last moment we got a tree and secretly bought a couple of cheapy token gifts for him. My father always used to get everything last minute - he would have approved.
And I still don't know why it was, but that quiet Christmas was filled with love and thankfulness and a magic that defied all logic and sense.