Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving & Ten Feet

Thanksgiving Day 2012 started for me at 8:30 a.m. I more or less crawled out of bed. Well, I was upright but I was able to shuffle, in tiny small sliding steps to the bathroom and then to the kitchen. That is what passes for walking for me for about an hour a day. Gradually, I will be able to pick up my feet and actually move my legs forward from my hips,  hopefully without pain. Normal graceful steps don't arrive until around 10 a.m. every morning. I might or might not be able to put on shoes with a heel. That depends on if my feet don't feel broken. 

Today is sunny and the Weather.Com icon says it is 42 degrees out there. I am supposed to have lunch with my fractured family around 11:30 today at a restaurant. Traditions are gone. There is no family get-together for us anymore. We don't watch parades, play games or sit around laughing at each others antics. We haven't for a long time. I no longer cook lots of food and goodies. We will eat and return to our respective abodes. Becca and Sarah will go to her family for the rest of today and tonight. 

The year 2009, the year Jerry died, was a horrible year and every year since it has only gotten mildly more tolerable. I know everyone thinks, "Good grief, woman, its four years. Get over it already." It is easy for you to say. Unfortunately, the very nature of death is unremitting separation. You can never get back what you lost. For the ignorant and shallow I remind you to remember what it felt like to lose your favorite cell phone and you had no way to replace it for a week? Well, multiply that by a million years and you might come close to feeling what normal people feel when they lose actual people they love. If that is a stretch, you're a sad mess. I digressed there but I know someone will read this that just won't get it. 

I've come to hate holidays in a way I never dreamed possible. I am forced to remember years of family reunions where a hundred people surrounded me in this great big bubble and we laughed, talked and ate and laughed and talked and ate. We all went home and felt connected and we could deal with the next year because we'd do this again. And then they all died and it stopped. 

So, I gathered my small family around me and the bubble shrank but we still got together. Sometimes we went to my siblings and we had a bigger bubble and everyone laughed, talked, and ate and felt connected. And then they all splintered off and moved away. I moved actually. So I gathered my small family and we had our own special holiday with each other. We laughed, watched the parades, I cooked and we ate. We played games while Jerry slept in front of the ball games. And then he died and the world shrank even smaller and I realized I couldn't get through the next year.

We've tried to maintain a holiday tradition. The year before he died we began to go out so I would not spend days preparing and cleaning up. I could have a day off. We continued after Jerry died. My sister misses the old way and every year wants to go back. She even volunteered this year to cook. I realized that I didn't really care anymore. 

This year, my son and his wife have divorced. Three people I love dearly are now splintered and drifting away. I look at Sarah and I realize she will never know those hundred people family reunions. She won't know the smaller ones where my siblings and our families get together and enjoy being a weekend of laughter and good food. She won't even have a small family joining hands to give thanks for a year of good things. Maybe years from now she will have a family and she can read some of my stories about what it was and maybe she can recapture it. I hope so because there is a lot of joy back there. There was much to be thankful for and to celebrate.

Why such a depressing blog? Because I want you to think about what you have surrounding you. I want you to look around that table and think. Turn off the cell phone and think about the faces you see surrounding you. Really look at them. Talk to them. Laugh at unfunny jokes today. Tomorrow it won't matter. 

I realized what was important seconds too late. Thanksgiving weekend 2009 was my epiphany. Every year, I remind myself and I re-post that moment for any who may pass this way.

".....I sit in a room that is approximately 9x10. The realization came to me tonight that all that matters of all that we do or say can be found within ten feet of you. And we usually stay close to what we love. But we don't notice it. It is silent and we don't really notice. Unless at some point it disappears. A void opens up.

I suppose the answer would be to look around and see what is within ten feet of where you sit right now. Reach out and grab it. Don't let go. If you do, it will begin to drift away, beyond your reach. Until you can't reach it anymore."

If you do nothing else today, look around and whisper prayers of thanksgiving for all that you have surrounding you. Give sincere and prolific thanks for the blessings of people who love you. Tell them you love them. Thank them for giving you their time, love, and countless hours of frustration, laughter, and you. Tomorrow, you can go back to your cell phones and endless shopping for a bargain. Today is the best bargain you'll ever have and once it is gone, you can't get it back.


  1. I understand and agree with you. Our family holiday get-togethers went from 30-35 people, down to four or five, and now just two. My parents, Joe's parents, my younger brother - all gone. Cousins are spread out across several states. It will never again be like it was, and that is sad. But, our hearts are still beating, and there are people who still love us, and it will all be okay. God bless!

  2. Four years is not such a long time.
    My dad dreads the upcoming month, and would love to crawl up in a ball and wake up in - say - February or March. We try to visit as often as possible but of course that's not the same.

    We, too, had massive family gatherings. And no one is left. My niece and nephew will never know the fun, joy, frustration and love that comes with a house full of relatives over the holidays. It's sad.

    I am beginning to cherish what's left of my family more and more.

    Hugs :)

  3. Hugs, Dixie. And while I know you don't see it, and you may disagree, I think you're starting to move on. Not move away from the memories, but move on. I don't think you could have written this post last year.
    You're right. Even if you don't have what you did before, you still need to cherish what you do have.

    1. I sincerely hope that nobody would dare to suggest that you should be "over" it by now just because 4 years have passed. Through you I have come to an understanding that you never get over the death of a loved one. I remember your story from 2009 and it is so true. I am looking around me right now......... thank you for the reminder.