I pride myself on how important my family is to me. I’ve always loved being with family and connecting again but after Andrew died, I feel like that went into overdrive. In the States, we are entering the major holiday season tomorrow as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. For some reason, this year I’m really thinking about this time of year and those people who are entering their first holiday without “someone.” Maybe I’m thinking about recent news-making tragedies, a dear friend who will most likely be celebrating her last holidays with her mom due too cancer, a sweet neighbor who recently lost her husband too cancer, a college roommate going through cancer for the third time in her life, or parents who are forcing themselves not too buy those gifts for their kids who were taken too early. I think it’s all three plus my own awareness.
They often say grief gets easier over time and honestly, I don’t think it’s “easier” so much as “numbing.” Those first holidays without Andrew really stand out in my mind. I remember them quite clearly…
Thanksgiving afternoon, 1992 (as I remember it)
It’s Thanksgiving Day today. You died six months ago, almost seven since we’re at the end of the month. Mom and dad are hosting Thanksgiving today. I think they need the hubbub and they want to fill the new house with noise and laughter. We moved a month ago from the farmhouse. I don’t blame mom and dad. They wanted to move anyway but after you died I think the timeline sped up. This house is great; it’s in the woods with a ravine to the left, a pond out back, and nature preserve to the right. You would’ve loved exploring the woods.
I feel very strange about today. I don’t know how to react or even act. I’m not really up for a bunch of people but yet it will be good to see everyone. We need more happy moments right now.
This is going to sound so dumb given everything that we’ve just gone through but I want someone to care about how I’m doing. I’m sure we’ll all be walking around on eggshells not sure what to say and what not to say. Do we tell stories of you or act like you weren’t actually here a few months ago. Everyone asks how we’re doing but do they legitimately want to hear? Are they hurting too?
I hear people…here we go…
Mid-Thanksgiving Gathering, 1992
I had to escape a bit so I’m hiding in my room. I didn’t tell anyone. I wonder if anyone will miss me. This may be part of an experiment, part sadness. I really want to cry. It’s fine, everyone is fine. I feel like I should be crying and we should all be sad. There is a tinge of sadness but we seem to be acting like this is life now. Is anyone going to notice I’m gone? Oh! A tear! Okay, that feels better. This feels like the twilight zone. It’s not like you and I would’ve interacted much tonight. Joseph is here so I’m sure you guys would be off doing something and laughing.
Mom just checked on me. That’s good. It’s good to be missed. I’ve felt pretty lonely and needy lately. I think I just want quiet. I’m really frustrated everyone is carrying on. People are even laughing. How can they do that? We’re supposed to be sad. I am. They are supposed to feel this giant pocket of emptiness where you would be. I do. This is so weird. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to act. I’m not sure if this new house helps that or not. It’s all new: family of 3 vs 4, a house in the woods vs farmhouse, sister vs sister*. I think I’ll put an asterisk after sister. I’m a sister but there’s a qualifier now. I should go back out there.
Back to now…
Full disclosure: I legitimately remember feeling all of those things. What I don’t remember is if we moved a few months after Andrew died or if we celebrated the holidays in the farmhouse, I don’t feel like we did but then I remember a sweater I was given and that was at the farmhouse…I think.
After Andrew died, we did have people come stay with us that needed a little extra support or love. One of those people is still a close family friend, although not as close as we used to be. My parents are her daughter’s godparents. She moved with us from the farm to the house in the woods but I don’t remember how long she lived with us. I could call and ask my parents but I don’t really want to. They wouldn’t be upset at my asking, I expect they’ll let me know after they read this (Note: mom and dad, when you read this let me know.) Isn’t that funny? Twenty-six years later and I still don’t like asking anyone about their experiences or the timeline. I think we all feel that way but maybe it’s just me feeling solitary and safe in my bubble of memories. That’s the thing about memories, sometimes they are accurate and sometimes they mislead.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My parents are hosting again. Ever since the girls joined us it’s felt less empty. I don’t hide in my room anymore. I think I did that a few times after Andrew died. There isn’t a holiday I don’t notice he is gone but now both of my grandmas are missing as well. That has started to feel more normal than I’d like. There is always going to be someone missing and that list is probably going to grow the older I get. That’s a depressing note to end on. That really wasn’t the point of this. My goal for this blog was to encourage those of you who are missing someone (or someone-s) this year. It’s okay to feel the feelings. Feel the bad but don’t feel bad about feeling the good. That is important: let it matter. Cry some tears but don’t forget to laugh or at least smile. A part of you might have died but all of you doesn’t have to.
This is a hint to my next blog. It was a breakthrough moment for me.