Yesterday I cried. I cried as I was navigating the grocery’s online ordering form deciding on what pre-assembled Thanksgiving dinner to order. I cried because I missed you, Mom. I missed you and Travis and one of our most beloved family traditions. I wept for the ever present hole I feel inside of me that swallows me up this time of year.
This is the first year since your death I am attempting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Our Thanksgiving tradition died the day the police officer walked into your home, sat us down and told us my brother had lost his life in a car accident in the early morning hours. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. In the following year we collectively struggled grimly through the Thanksgiving weekend. We mourned in isolation from the world at large. We politely declined invitations to other peoples’ homes. We tucked ourselves away and ate things very un-Thanksgiving like and grieved.
Then on the second year after Travis was gone we tried a new tradition. We went to a friend’s farm and had a delicious potluck and communed with nature and the animals. It was beautiful and healing despite the pain of someone so vital to our family missing from our table. We decided to christen the farm our new Thanksgiving place.
Then, Mom, you left us.
In the months after you died, Mom, the mere thought of the holidays created anxiety and tears behind my eyes and a golfball sized lump in my throat. Thanksgiving especially since I had been thrust into the role of matriarch of what remained of our small family. That first Thanksgiving, true to my sympathetic nervous system animal instincts, I took my family and we fled. We fled to a beautiful city and had a lovely dinner that I could not enjoy because my soul felt hollow and heavy. I walked through the city wearing my veil of grief. It suffocated me.
That brings me to present. A month ago I decided this year we would stay home. Guilted by my daughter’s pleading for a traditional dinner at home. Tentatively easing into creating a different ritual. My grief veil now lifted. We will occupy ourselves with a day trip to a local wonderment, the Coral Castle and come home to a prepared traditional Thanksgiving meal courtesy of the local market. We will enjoy the day. I will enjoy the day.
What I loved about your Thanksgiving dinners, Mom, is that you created a family and invited everyone over to enjoy a feast that you alone prepared in the week prior. I loved the friends and family, the socializing, the laughter, the teasing, the eating, the napping. I loved the holiday atmosphere you so carefully prepared for us year after year since we had come to Florida and began our new life. Since you went into recovery you diligently worked to make a stable family environment year round but during the holidays you worked extra hard to make everything special. I basked in the liveliness and the love. Thanksgiving Day was the epitome of your own reinvention and our growth as a family. Everything I craved as a child.
That all vanished first with my brother’s death and now with yours, Mom.
I am not strong enough yet to recreate the day that you made so wonderful and special. That kind of magic I can never replicate. I have no desire to spend the day at someone else’s home where I have to mask and pretend.
Maybe someday…….Maybe not…….
For now, I sit and type and go back in my mind’s eye and reminisce bittersweetly. Remembering the Thanksgivings spent with you and my brother. Diving deep into this ever present hole in my soul where you both are missing from me. Allowing the tears, the release. Trying to imagine feeling joy again on Thanksgiving but not secure in that possibility.
Missing you guys, always……