Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and it’ll be different this year. I will bake my pie, only it will be one and won’t be Peter’s favorite. I will have plates, silverware, and napkins, only I can’t bring myself to bring out the good china. We will eat, only I’m not sure I want to eat exactly at the table while looking at an empty chair. The smell of food with permeate the house, only it will be cooked by my son instead of Peter. We will say grace, make a toast and say what we are thankful for, only this year, the grace will be mumbled, the toast will be weak, and the gratitudes will be strangled. This year, our Thanksgiving will be different, and hard, and we will get through it.
I hope, and pray maybe, for strength to get through the day. I want to do so with a smile, the once was fabulous feeling of Thanksgiving,. I want to reassure my kids that this too shall pass. I want to smile, even if it’s a forced one because my children were robbed of so much when Death stole their father, I want this one day to feel the same, be the same. Even though denial is tapping at me annoyingly, I want this.
I will be glad and comforted and feel loved when the three of us are under one roof. I will worry about my daughter’s trip home, and fret over my son’s cooking. I will concern myself with their emotions and will grab any opening of happiness, in whatever form. And I will ask Peter to be, if not with all of us, at least with my kids, so we can have some moments of that Thanksgiving feeling.
I am sure we will laugh- we’re funny people. I’m sure there will be moments when reminiscing won’t bring us to our knees, rather give us a sense of peace. I am sure Peter will be there, in spirit, in them, in us, in our love, for he will always be part of all of this. And I am sure we will make it through, perhaps stronger, perhaps more connected, perhaps despite Grief who intrudes everywhere.
While I make the apple pie today, neglecting Peter’s favorite of cherry, and the pumpkin which Peter and I only like, all the past Thanksgivings that I baked and Peter cooked, a reflection of our partnership, will play in my mind, in my heart. When both of my children are safely home, I hope to feel Peter surround me. And if I do, I will smile, the smile Peter and I shared when we sat down as a family, the four of us. As I pour the wine, my son telling me no thank you as he has the same disinterest in wine as his father, I will try to remember all I am thankful for these past five months, the things I listed in yesterday’s blog. Right after, the unpredictability of Grief may turn me, and I will look at the three of us left. I may then curse Death and perhaps even God – I still hold some anger at God – for the absence of Peter on this day.
Tomorrow will be tough. Our mourning and everything that means, along with our struggles, are real, are already real today. For me, I know I am the mother and I will try my best to keep it together for my kids. And before you say, ‘don’t be too hard on yourself’, ‘feel what you need to feel’, ‘your kids will understand’, ‘it’s early’, know I will not listen. Cliches and platitudes will not take away my motherly instincts to protect and correct. It’s who I am, who I will always be.
Despite all of the pain Thanksgiving day may bring, we will be together, as a family. The family Peter helped build with his strong foundation. The one I will not let crumble. The one Peter would not want to fall apart. He and I created something beautiful, and regardless of Peter’s absence tomorrow, or maybe because of it, my kids and I will get through, as a family. And you know what? Death and Grief, can go to the hell the three of us live in because we are Dudak strong…Peter Dudak strong.