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In 1st Christmas without boys, Bates family tries to focus on good times

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The tombstone of brothers Leland and River Bates is decorated with toys and memories of the two who died last summer. Their grandmother decorated the site two days before Christmas. Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press The tombstone of brothers Leland and River Bates is decorated with toys and memories of the two who died last summer. Their grandmother decorated the site two days before Christmas. Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press

BRADLEY COUNTY, TN (Times Free Press) -- When Linda Bates unpacked her Christmas decorations this year, she paused as she unfolded the stockings for her two little grandsons, River and Leland.

She held them in her hands for a long while, then hung them up on the counter ledge. She left them there for about a minute before taking them down and packing them back up. The ache was just too heavy.

Last year, the boys' stockings were packed with candy, toothbrushes and BandAids decorated with cartoon characters. The boys got new bicycles for Christmas and spent the rest of the morning on them, barreling up and down the halls of their grandmother's house.

This year, the house will be quiet.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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