Thanksgiving has indeed changed. My family now has many empty chairs around our holiday gatherings although only one has a neon flashing light above it. I couldn’t help but notice how many grievers took the time to reach out to me to tell me they remembered Amy and to let my family know they were thinking of us on Thanksgiving. Of course, I heard from a handful of thoughtful friends too whom did not go unnoticed.
Gratitude will never be the same after you suffer the life changing sucker punch of out of order death. It is unrealistic for anyone to expect that I could count my blessings with the same gratitude I did before my Devastation Day. My first contact on Thanksgiving morning came from my friend who lost her son 4 years ago. This is what she sent to me.
It’s okay for me to say why me, why us, why my family when a holiday rolls around and it takes so much effort to get through the day. I make no apologies for not being able to pump myself up to present myself as a totally grateful being. We could not skype, face time, text or call Amy. Instead we light a candle and remember her with love and longing and search for a sign. Yeah, my gratitude is sprinkled with an attitude.
It is becoming irritating that I am always being coached to go out and save the world in memory of Amy. Seriously … as I have said many times, I was charitable before Amy’s passing and while the focus of my efforts may have changed, I don’t need to be reminded I should be out saving the world while others sit around the table with their loved ones here. Of course I do many deeds in memory of my daughter but that is not going to bring her back or erase the scars that my family carry.
The passage of time has allowed me to see that my limited energy must continue to be invested in my family of 4 who are all bleeding in their own way. As I confessed to another grieving Mom, I carry guilt because I am unable to easily be the sturdy steadfast wife and mother. The world grows impatient with those who don’t just buck up quickly. The “how may I help you” has an expiration date which must be organic because it has such a short shelf life. My children’s generation has not been educated on how to be compassionate so many of their friends disappear easily or forget they had a sister. Sad, but definitely true in many cases. I know I get irritated when someone “checks in” after a long absence and fails to inquire about my children. Their loss is so significant.
Clearly, I have developed an attitude about being shoved into grateful mode. I hold onto the remote control as the commercials show complete families all gathered together greeting one another with love as they each arrive home for the holidays. “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup” as the son returns home or the Grandmom visiting her son’s family for the holidays makes the coffee still makes me cry. Just from a different place in my heart. Do I feel extra sorry for myself and my family during the holiday season. You betcha I do.
So fa-la-la-la freaking la to the month of December. I assure you I will continue to do for the less fortunate because it makes sense to me but it does not lighten my grief. Watching a child experience the wonders of the holidays will always touch my heart. But Christmas music, holiday gatherings, fake holiday cheer, the absence of my daughter, the struggle and effort it takes to get out of bed each day during the “most wonderful time of the year” is like daggers to my heart. And yes I am well aware for many that Jesus is the reason for the season but before you throw that one my way, take an inventory of what makes your holiday merry and bright. If losing one of your loved ones would not in any way affect your ability to be happy, grateful and faithful, well just call me a Doubting Thomas.
Ready or not, here we go again… Wake me with the coffee when it’s January 2. In the meantime, I will go through the motions as best I can for my family and steadfast compassionate friends who deserve the best version of myself which I am able to muster up … but I make no promises that my best will be adequate. All I can promise is I will definitely continue to try.
Always remembering and missing my sweet Amy.