The Young Widow - The First Thanksgiving
The easiest thing to do as a widow is give up the holidays. They are difficult and uncomfortable. They bring up emotions, questions, and seem to lose their meaning. I find that being around people has become awkward. I feel so different. I am branded by my pain and everyone can see it. They are affected by it, by me and are at a loss for words. For a private person, this is a trial in and of itself. With less than 3 months experience at this depth of sadness, it seems almost rude to ask someone what they are thankful for. All the attention and the emphasis is still on all the recent experiences that no one in their right mind can ever think of being thankful for. Then there are the family members... We usually celebrated together and neither of them wanted anything to do with the mention of feeling gratitude or anything else other than grief and sorrow. They don't want to be bothered with decorations, meal planning, and hosting. They don't want to sit around a table surrounded by everyone but him. Who can blame them?
This year, I had a choice. The choice was less about whether to have turkey somewhere or not and had everything to do with whether I had gratitude in my heart or not. Every morning I wake up and thank God for another difficult day that I was spared to take care of my little angel. Is it the most correct prayer? No, I am sure that it is not the most heartfelt either, but it is the truth and the only thing I could put together right now. There is gratitude though. I also recognize many other reasons that I have to be grateful for. I could have easily barricaded myself inside my home for the Thanksgiving holiday. I didn't have to show up. The invitation came full of love from a family who has never forgotten me although they could have. This is where my daughter was and they always had a place for me but I never accepted until this year. I have many things to be thankful for. Now, having seen how delicate and unpredictable life and everything in it is, I could not take a chance at not being there for my little angel and giving her the example of having gratitude and making memories despite our current journey.
I am not thankful to be a widow. I am thankful to have met and loved my husband. I would have loved to have had him for so much longer, but in the short period of time that we did he showed my daughter and I more love than most people see in 10 lifetimes. How could I not show my gratitude for that? I am thankful to have the people who refuse to forget me or leave me behind. I am thankful for the faithful friend that has embraced both me and my daughter and has shared new life experiences and memories with us. I am so grateful to have the time I have with my daughter. I thank God for morning coffee with my mom. There are so many people and things that I am grateful for. My hearts biggest loss does not constitute the action of ignoring this holiday. I can definitely be grateful daily in private, but this day is a tradition of open and public expression of gratitude and so as hard as it was, I chose not to let it go by.
Harder still was the decision I made to visit his workplace on this day. It is a step that I have been avoiding for a long time. I am still not sure that I want to be seen, but it was another way to honor my husband and say thank you to those closest to him. It was not planned and not all were there, but I let myself be seen. Those who were worried and had not seen me since the service were calmed. I was able to wish them a happy thanksgiving.
My big thanksgiving day step was made simple by my host. All I had to do was show up and bring pie. I was not a topic of discussion or questions. It was wonderful to muffle my inside thoughts and just be there. I held and fed a happy baby girl which brings joy to the soul. A grandmothers new journey with little fuss pot baby made me laugh, a lot. An expected mother brought more joy to me. My daughter playing with her step sister, cousin, and the young at heart dog gave my eyes new happy memories. It was hard but it was good. It help me move into the next hard decision...Christmas. The tree is up and is making my daughter happy. It is beautiful.