up until about an hour before going to my mom’s for thanskgiving, my attitude was stinky. my sentiment was something like, i’m not thankful for a damn thing, are you kidding me? after the horror that has hit our lives over the past 2 months, thanksgiving can kiss my ass. done.
i couldn’t sleep the night before. i fed my sadness with funeral slideshows and memorial music, laying in my bed with my laptop and crying. how was i supposed to be thankful when i just lost my grama and aunt, a full quarter of my living relatives on that side? the only thing i could think of to really be thankful for was that there wouldn’t be another holiday where we celebrated together while Grama lay immobile in her bed at the nursing home. my cousin was spending the holiday with her new in-laws, my other cousin would be able to do a drive by (which would’ve included Barb in the past). my mom invited some extended family and her childhood friend and her family, and i wasn’t sure how i felt about that. it felt like replacements. i was in a bad place.
dinner was to start around 2, and i hadn’t yet started cooking. about noon i felt compelled to call my mom to check in. we chatted about preparations and at the end of the conversation i told her i was nervous. Not nervous, but didn’t know how this first holiday without them would feel. i miss them and i’m sad. my mom, with her strong spiritual lean, assured me they would be with us today. and she told me i didn’t have to bring anything if i didn’t want to. just come. i warned her that i may not stay for the whole thing.
i somehow worked up motivation to finish my cooking and make it over there. i made pumpkin gingerbread muffins and acorn squash with apple soup. pretty good if i do say so myself! it was a full house by the time i got there, and i just tried to breathe and be present. as i relaxed into it, i felt suprisingly ok. my mom had made a cute little place on the counter with a picture of Barb and Grama, a coffee cup for Grama, a big bottle of dr pepper for Barb, and one of Grama’s little fur caps hanging over the frame. it was nice. my cousin and his girlfriend arrived just as the food got done and we all found a place to perch and enjoy dinner. so many people! we’ve never had the food get so demolished, it was kind of fun, even with some people there that i didn’t really know.
i felt big pockets of sadness throughout the day but it was still good. after some people left, i remembered that i brought the slideshow i had made but not shown for Grama’s funeral. i put in on and sat with my mom. about a minute in she pulled me over to lay on her shoulder and i cried. i didn’t realize how bad i needed that moment. it was really important for me to find a way to acknowledge and remember them on these holidays. i don’t want to move on through the day without acknowledging our loss in a deliberate way. everyone loved it. i’m really proud of it. it’s a simple slideshow with windows moviemaker, with added music. but the combination of pictures from her whole life… it just turned out really nice, i love it. everyone loved it.
after that, sometimes my mom held my hand, or hooked her pinky through mine. sometimes i’m very awkward with touch. when i was little, or maybe as i grew into adolescence, i became uncomfortable being cuddled or touched with family, especially with my mom. but i’ve been needing it so much now. it has something to do with my stoic-ness, my taking care of everything, being the go-to girl. i have taken care of so many tasks and people, that i’ve been struggling with why i suddenly find myself with no one to take care of me. is it because no one thinks i need it? because i give off an air of self-sufficiency? whatever it is, i don’t like it. so those moments on thanksgiving of being cuddled and touched and loved were very special and meaningful. letting myself be vulnerable and cared for is so necessary. i was nervous to assert my need to show the video, but we all needed it. i want to make more for christmas!
earlier this summer, my aunt said, “well… we’ll never forget 2012.” at that time, she knew she was going to die, Grama was going to probably die, my cousin got married, i had just gotten my masters, everything was going to change. and no, i will never forget 2012. in the darkest times, it’s very hard to be thankful. but i’m finding ways, riding these waves of grief. i was talking to friends last night about it and said that sometimes i’m ready to move forward and live life, but sometimes i want to stop and sit down and stare at the wreckage.
it’s comforting to know that people heal. this was a season of my life. the season where Barb and Grama were here with me has come to a close. that’s devastating. but. i can honestly say that i’m thankful for the hope of unknown, and presumably good things, in the next season.