Before “it” all happened, this was what my thanksgiving looked like (two people blurred since they are still here and might not want to be in the picture). My mom never settled for anything less than a finely decorated table with the “gold silverware” and the best china. All the sides were served in bowls and we all had glasses with gold leaf. Well, except my daughter. She was still in the “cup with a lid” stage we all know so well.
This was right before my mom found out about “it”. My mind freezes here and I return often. I know that many of you do as well, as we all have loved ones missing from our tables as time progresses. However, I have four and it’s just too much to be honest. Since I can’t do anything about it other than remember, then well, that’s what I’ll do.
Sometimes I find it kind of ironic that I’m supposed to be thankful for my struggle. Why? Because I think that during a great deal of it, the things happening around me weren’t truly my struggle. It was my ability to cope/handle/accept/process the horrors that was the real job on my end. My mother struggled with cancer, my husband struggled with his “demons”, my dad would struggle with and succumb to cancer and my brother-in-law recently passed on from a debilitating stroke. So, just like that, four people vanished from the photo. To this day, I can’t really put a finger on just exactly what word I’m supposed to use, but struggle doesn’t fit when I try to describe it. Challenge? Intestinal fortitude? They are all so inadequate considering.
The holidays and so many other dates on the calendar were forever marred with the horrible reminders of what they endured and how they left us all reeling and literally staggering with grief. From the moment I fell screaming to my knees when I heard about my mom’s terminal cancer, to the moment I stood next to my husband’s casket, moving on too soon to my dad’s services and then my brother-in-laws touching service, I wonder: Whose struggle was it?
Now I get it, sure. I suffered traumatic, personal loss. It was a struggle for me to get up out of bed and face it all. There were many months and even longer periods where I had no one. I say “no one” in a very specific way. I had many special people come in and out of my life when I needed them. But as time passes on, people expect you to pull up your bootstraps and get on with things. It’s not to be mean, but it’s meant as a compliment. Perhaps consider it an “You’ve got this” or the “Just keep swimming” mentality. Having someone hold your hand and never let go would prevent you from finding out just who you can be.
This is what it really winds up being. There are days when I wonder why I get up. Kids squabbling, mountains of laundry, rooms to clean, bills to pay. It’s really easy to let the pressures of daily life mount and get you down. However, I’m here to deal with them and for that I’m thankful.
I’m thankful for the home that I purchased that was my parent’s house for many years. I’m thankful for the items I own that bring me comfort and make my life easier. I’m so thankful I was able to take my children to Mexico on a cruise ship. I never thought in a million years I would EVER do anything like that, or take them to the ocean after 20 years without a vacation (that’s for another post I guess). I’m still in shock that I hold tickets to my life’s dream: Heading across the pond to Europe and the very special person/people/friends and adventures that await me there.
Every time my car starts up and the heat or the A/C works I’m very grateful. The list is endless. I still have bad days, when the sadness wells up and puts me in a dark mood. I wouldn’t be human. I went through long periods of not giving a shit and just skating through the days until it was bedtime. However, I’m still HERE and I have a lot left that I want to do. I know my mom and dad would be proud of me. I know they were at the time they left this world because they told me. When no one else ever said a damn thing about how hard I tried, they did. It took a long time and it also took the end of their lives to say it, but it was said and I won’t ever forget that. Perhaps that’s why I try SO HARD to find things to be thankful for and to keep going.
Happy Thanksgiving and to all of my cherished friends around the world, Happy Thursday. I love you all and care for you more than you know.