I made it through Thanksgiving. It was another milestone I conquered. Yes, I did fluctuate between pain and numbness – I never did have joy per se. Yes, I broke down and cried a few times. Yes, I took a few naps not only to stop feeling for a minute but because grief is exhausting. And yes, the entire day I did not feel like myself and it did not feel like Thanksgiving.
My son and daughter were wonderful. To have them with me was more than I could have asked for. My daughter drove in early in the morning, leaving her place at two-thirty in the morning to get here. She brought with her two appetizers in a cooler, and her beautiful, caring soul that comforted me every time I needed it. My son came over around nine o’clock to start his masterful Thanksgiving dinner. Each dish was from scratch and perfectly made. His was maybe one of the best Thanksgiving meals I had in a long time, possibly ever, and I would have had much more if sadness and anxiety hadn’t zapped the appetite out of me as soon as I sat down at the table.
After we grasped hands to say our prayers, each of us said what we were most thankful for this Thanksgiving. It was my son’s idea to carry on this tradition. And my heart filled as I thought, even among the sucky, he wants to remember the gratitude. When it was my turn, I expressed my gratitude to have a man like Peter as my husband and as their father. I broked down while speaking from my heart. As soon as I got myself together, my toast of “to Peter” as we lifted my glasses, had me sobbing once again. My daughter, with her empathetic instinct, took back my hand and held it as I choked out my words. God, Peter and I raised great adults.
I chased the kids out of the kitchen to tackle the mountains of dishes. I was alone in my thoughts and it was there, among the gravy boat and the turkey platter, where I talked with Peter. I didn’t feel any response. I didn’t do it for a response. I just needed my say. I hope he heard. I wish I knew for certain. I know so many will say he did, but I want to know for certain. There is no certainty in life though.
The rest of the night went well. I had one final collapse when my son’s girlfriend came over. She’s a wonderful, caring, intelligent woman and I can’t think of a better-suited person for my son. When she arrived, I thought about how Peter and I were supposed to have been embracing our children’s partners, their careers, and their life choices. With them grown, now was the time we were supposed to sit back and smile at their accomplishments and embrace our letting go. Now was the time we were supposed to watch them move on, as he and I would begin our second chapter of life, as we awaited their arrival, with their guests, and their stories about their lives on another Thanksgiving. Maybe we would lie together at night, and recap the day. Okay, who am I kidding? I would recap, and he may or may not have thrown something in. But it would be us, in a perfect glow of a Thanksgiving feast, entangled in one another arms, beaming in mutual pride and in the perfect comfort of our forever together.
Maybe it’s the romance writer in me. Maybe I am glorifying what could have been. Only it was Peter, my romantic muse. Only it was us. We were romantic. We enjoyed being wrapped up in each other’s arms. We had great pride in our children. We planned for a life without our children. We talked about how we would vacation with them and have holidays as we grew, together, and away from them. We wanted the rest of our lives to be us. He got his wish. Mine? Well, mine not so much.
Today, I am still in a numbed hangover from yesterday. Basking in the memories of yesterday, I feel like I cheated my kids on the Mom they once knew. And say anything you want about being too hard on myself, or it’s still early, or they love you. I know all of that, and I know I wasn’t myself yesterday and I wanted to be. I wanted everything to be like it was, and yet, I couldn’t because I didn’t feel at all like myself and nothing will ever be like it was.
This morning, the nauseated feeling of what will never again lives in my belly. I am already dreading the weeks ahead of me when most everyone will be singing “Silent Night”, or putting up lights, or placing history-ladened ornaments on trees. I thought about putting up a tree and now that thought is a maybe not. Having another Holiday of reflecting on how Peter and mine should-have-been is something my heart is breaking from. And this morning, I have no energy to go downtown to see a Christmas play I bought tickets for me and my daughter. I will though. I hope I will though. I know they were expensive and know I how to push because I’ve pushed all this time since Peter left. For myself, for her, for Peter’s memory, I will push myself. Funny how I pushed in pain to bring life into this world and I now push to get through the pain because Peter left this world.
Like everything else, I will get past this. I will because it’s me and I am a tenacious gal. I will because of all the support I have. I will because I do persevere. I will because I know, I will eventually learn to live with the pain. And I will embrace the pride of my children alone, carrying Peter’s with me as well. I will carve out my own excitement about the lives my children set forth. And I will learn how to let go of the dreams Peter and I had together, and embrace the freedom on my own. I will. Eventually, I will. Until then, today, I am painfully numb to all of it.