Today, as could have been predicted, I received many calls and messages from those wishing me a happy holiday, including at least a few that were quite unexpected, coming from individuals with whom I rarely get to speak. As the first Thanksgiving without my husband, I’m certain everyone expected it to be an extremely difficult day for me. Truthfully, it hasn’t been. Certainly not because I don’t miss him, but rather because it hasn’t really felt like Thanksgiving today.
My oldest is visiting her fiance’s family out of state, and my younger daughter had to work part of the day, so I have spent the majority of today lying in bed, surrounded by my children’s pets (Max, Lady A’s dog / my walking partner, and Bane and Mowgli, my other daughter’s two male trouble-making cats) and binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix. (I have been fruitlessly trying to finish all seven seasons before their reunion show is released on Netflix tomorrow, but without a machine to suspend time, that won’t be happening… in any case, I digress).
I have also dozed periodically, done some online Christmas shopping (because I just don’t have it in me to brave the stores today but still appreciate a good bargain, thanks to Mom), washed my sheets – all things that make it seem like some random weekend afternoon, not a major holiday. So it has been somewhat easy to “pretend” I’m not celebrating the first real holiday, one usually spent together, without him.
It may be a bit more difficult on Sunday when we plan to decorate our Christmas tree and gorge ourselves on appetizers and pie, before going to see Disney’s newest movie, Moana (one A had definitely wanted to see as it is set in his favorite place on the planet – Hawaii). We will all be together then, and I’m certain will be telling stories and really noticing his absence. I believe it will be more difficult than today, simply because it will be more difficult to think it any other day.
“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” ~ William Faulkner
The Faulkner quote above showed up in my Facebook memories this morning, and it seemed fitting as I have been consciously focusing on being thankful and gracious. I remember that although I “only” had 32 years with my husband, they were 32 years filled with love, laughter, and blessings. Many people spend far longer with each other without enjoying one another’s company and not appreciating their time together.
I had 32 years of loving a man with a good heart and receiving love in return. Through those years, we experienced highs and lows, good times and not-so-good ones, abundance and need, mistakes and forgiveness. We watched our children grow and spent endless hours together. We laughed, we cried, we pitched fits, and we made up.
So, yes, I miss him terribly today, but that’s nothing new. My grief has become sort of a dull ache, rather than the sharp pain of loss. I feel it every day, but for the most part, I am able to tolerate it. Like an old sports injury, it is there, but I can live my life around it, knowing that others have survived before me, and so will I with determination and faith.
And with the love of my family, extended family, friends and strangers. I am thankful for all of those who weather this storm with me. I appreciate everyone who checks in with me – both those who do so on a daily basis, and those who seem to pop in just when I need another pick-me-up.
Today, and each day, I choose to be grateful for what I have, what I’ve had and lost, and what I hope to have again. Gratitude should be exercised before it becomes rusty with disuse, leaving one bitter and stuck in the same spot. Much like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz needing his trusty oil can, I feel I must keep up with my regular doses of thanks and appreciation so I can continue to keep moving freely, moving forward, living my life.
Thank you to the man who loved me despite my many flaws, who saw only the best in me, who took care of me and the kids, who protected us always, and to whom I owe a lifetime of happy memories. I love you, and I’m blessed to have had 32 years, even if they weren’t nearly enough…
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