My First Thanksgiving Without You

At first, after you left, when I thought of the upcoming holidays that would approach after your passing, immediately I knew, I could not possibly stand the thought of spending time in your home without you there and doing all the things we were accustomed to doing together without you. My immediate reaction to that thought was to book a flight for Thanksgiving and go as far away as possible. My thoughts were, if I removed myself from the place that could potentially cause a flood of emotional breakdown, thoughts of you no longer sitting at your kitchen table slicing potatoes for your delicious potato salad or you standing at your kitchen sink washing your vegetables, cutting them up to perfect proportion, and seasoning before placing them in the largest pot you had to ensure your growing family and anyone who stopped by had enough to eat, or watching as you prepared dough in a bowl to make your homemade Buttermilk biscuits, or the phone call on Thanksgiving morning that either I received from you or made to you that would not happen any longer.

The week before Thanksgiving arrived, I was all but anticipating my upcoming departure. Those thoughts and feelings I was attempting to avoid, had already began to emerge. Several times, I thought, I should just cancel the flight. But, in my heart, I knew getting away from the norm was just the medicine I needed. I would still be amongst family, though not the family I’m accustomed to breaking bread with on Thanksgiving. More importantly, I would not have to think about missing you as much. So, I thought…

The week of Thanksgiving arrived and of course, too late to cancel my flight and plans. No way of backing out now. A plethora of thoughts, emotions, and questions came flooding through my mind. Should I leave my family at a time when seemingly, we would all need one another? Would it be selfish of me to go away and not participate in the normal activities of the holiday? What would you think about me not going to your house to see about your children and grandchildren? Ultimately, the decision was made to do what works best for me; something I’m doing more often nowadays.

And so it was, I boarded my flight in the wee hours of the morning amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. This getaway would allow me to spend time with my son who several months ago moved away and to also spend time with my favorite aunt and extended family whom I’ve not seen in years.

Whew, the morning of Thanksgiving was a bit of a rough start for me. Early in the morning, I awakened with a strong desire to pick up my phone and call you. I’m guessing it was muscle memory. After allowing myself to just let the tears flow, and receiving reassurance and comforting from Aunty, who found me downstairs engulfed in tears, that what I was feeling was perfectly normal. Grief can definitely make you question your sanity.

You would be so proud— I jumped right into the kitchen and cooked things I had never cooked before—the foods you would normally have cooked and I tried seasoning them as you would, though a little more on the healthier side (wink). Of course, I was my own worst critic. It was as though I felt you there coaching me along as I tasted, and had Aunty taste to see if the vegetables tasted anything close to yours or even right. Everyone who was able partake in the meal remarked about how good the food tasted. And to think, I had not planned to cook at all. Although the cooking allowed me to remember you, the various scents of food also reminded me of you. There were several occurrences when I knew you were either standing there beside me or sitting nearby watching to ensure I didn’t add too much salt. (Smile)

Through this getaway, I learned, no matter how far you travel to escape grief, you cannot possibly escape it; it travels along with you. It is our earnest hope that as we grieve, we are surrounded by individuals who understand what you are experiencing and find ways to help you navigate through your feelings and sufficient amount of emotions.

Before dinner, as I stood at the stove with my back turned to the entrance, my son walked into the kitchen and spoke. Everyone who was seated in the kitchen saw him before I did. Upon hearing his voice, I turned to look and tears began to pour from my eyes — tears of joy. To lay eyes on him and to hold him in my arms, filled my heart with pure joy, unspeakable joy.

After the corporate prayers of Thanksgiving were said over the food before sitting down to eat, I sat at the table with my three aunties who had lost their mother a few years ago. Unbeknownst to them, I listened as they shared memories of her and how today, they continue to grieve her absence. They also remarked and chuckled about the happy times. A great balance. Their collective conversations helped me, and strengthened me in the moment I needed it most and could not have been anymore perfectly timed.

Though anger was not one of them, this week has been a roller coaster of emotions. The anticipation of not knowing how I was going to get through Thanksgiving. No doubt, God and you had everyone in your family strategically placed, exactly where they needed to be in this season. The memories of you will never fade, no matter where we decide to sit down to a meal, you will have a seat at each of the tables where we are all seated. Your quiet presence will be made known.

So, whether we are together or apart, there will always be a seat at a table for you. It all ends with joy.

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3 Responses

    1. Thanks so much for taking time to read this blog and commenting. Your continuous support is very much appreciated. Also,thanks for your store purchase!

  1. How beautifully you capture such a deep and intricate experience. Our God is ever orchestrating and I give thanks for how He orchestrated the details of such a fragile time in your life!

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