Friday, December 5, 2014

Thanksgiving memories, grief and gratefulness

The surgical glove turkey bouquet that inspired my daughter's writing.

My daughter had her hands in soapy dish suds when I asked her for inspiration for a blog post. She had lots of ideas. One of them was to write a Thanksgiving memory. Before I could apply myself to write, she had finished a memory that she wanted to share with me.

She was so inspired by her own suggestion that wrote in-between washing the dinner dishes. She'd wash some dishes. Stop, dry her hands, and write a little bit. Then stop writing and wash some more dishes. Then, stop, dry her hands, then write some more. By the time she was done with the dishes she had composed a Thanksgiving tribute.

She read her narrative to her father, sister, and me. (Her brothers happened to be off somewhere.)

Her memories undid me.

I had started to type a Thanksgiving post while she was doing those dishes but I didn't get very far. The draft is still sitting in my stack of unfinished posts. I even went back to it after she had read hers to me. But I had been undone.

I had asked for an idea and received some therapy instead.  Somehow whatever it was that I was going to write dimmed in my mind. Instead, I cried. But instead of alone tears, we cried together the four of us that night.

We cried quiet, silent tears. For just a little while. It didn't take long and we all hugged together on the couch as we cried together. Those tears sure felt better than the Alone Tears we cry. Better than the sadness we carry in our hearts all alone. At least that's part of what I learned that night. That I wasn't the only one still feeling sad, still grieving.

Still grieving the death of  Papa, my husband's father. And perhaps we are still grieving the many days up to his death. Perhaps we are still crying the tears that we didn't have time to cry while up close we watched him suffer.
Papa on the left with his brother that same Thanksgiving of the turkey bouquet.

I often hover alone in my sadness wondering why my friends don't understand why I might still be sad. They seem surprised: "He was your father-in-law. Were you that close?" They look at me quizzically, especially if their own father-in-law has passed and they can see they haven't experienced what I am experiencing. But...that isn't the point.

Or maybe it is.

We all walk different paths. We have different journeys. While I'm part of the human race, therefore I do experience emotions that others experience. It's just that sometimes the people I'm rubbing shoulders with haven't had a similar enough of a journey to understand me at that moment in time. Especially without words volunteered from me about the path that I've been walking on. But sometimes it is hard to volunteer words when the path of crisis didn't allow time for feeling, for processing, for figuring out. And somehow it goes numb, or at least it's all so mixed up you don't know what to feel and all you really want is a nap.

Until two years later when my daughter writes and reads about Thanksgiving memories, putting into words what we were feeling, even if we didn't know it before she read her words.

There it was: an epiphany! It is right here in this house that I need to look for comfort. Right here with my own people: my husband, my daughters, my sons. These my closest of friends. We have traveled the paths together. The uncomfortable changes. The front row seat to suffering. The amazing provisions. The answered prayers. And... the lingering sadness.

Here is a source of comfort that I had overlooked.

I was cheered that night of the tears and the group hug on the couch. Perhaps it is why it was easy to speak of Papa over the Thanksgiving table.

We shared memories and laughed. We ate and talked and reminisced and sat in the hot tub he kept running. We slept peacefully in the house that he and Grandma lived for more than twenty years.

It was a peaceful Thanksgiving and I'm giving quite a bit of credit to a reading shared, a group cry and a group hug before we headed off to Grandma's house. We added to that long conversations, long naps, and easy laughter.

A peaceful Thanksgiving for which I am grateful. Amen.

"Give thanks in all circumstances. " I Thessalonians 5:18

Some circumstances are just easier to give thanks in than others. Wouldn't you agree?


  1. Glad it was a good (and catharctic -- spelling?) thanksgiving for you all. I'm sure there was some trepidation leading into it, not knowing what would surface. Love ya.

  2. Steph...actually there wasn't any trepidation in approaching it this year. There was last year. I think that's why it surprised me a bit that we all needed to cry together. So much more peaceful than last year -- for us anyways -- I can't speak for Leah.

  3. I was missing my mom this week ... and it has been 9 years. Grief is hard.


  4. Love it when those
    we mother become so
    wise and comfort US.

    Beautiful, Kathleen!

    xo Suzanne


Thanks for being part of the conversation...I love hearing from you. Kathleen

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