My husband died and 2 1/2 months later Thanksgiving crept up on my calendar.
I couldn't decide.
Should I go be depressed and pathetically quiet and crying at my parents house for dinner or his? Or should I try to drag my sad, broken, and mess of a self to both?
I had no energy.
I was completely drained.
My late husband's Mom called me to say that some local people or church had donated a turkey to her and to me. I asked her to take my turkey down to the local food shelf. I wanted someone who couldn't afford to buy a turkey for their family to have a nice holiday.
Me? I ran away.
Oh they call it running away but I call it skipping turkey day and going somewhere to save my soul from more sadness.
I packed up our kids and we went to Wisconsin Dells. We laughed. We swam. We ate pizza for Thanksgiving dinner and it was awesome. It was exhausting to go on that little get away just me and two very young children but it was what I desperately needed and so did they. I didn't have the energy to go to a holiday where we all cried about the missing chair and I also didn't have the energy to just smile through the day and pretend that I didn't want to crawl in a dark hole and die. I had no energy for adult conversation. But swimming with two little kids and listening to their giggles? That I could do. That Thanksgiving is a bit of a blur but also a tragic and loving memory of me and our children. That is also when I started my blog. Sitting on the hotel bed at 1:00am with a sleeping child on each side of me. I poured out my heart in a letter to my dead husband. Telling him how thankful I was for his friendship and love and how much I had no damn idea how I was going to drive back home from this hotel and face life.
Turkey dinner with a side of grief.
I skipped the turkey dinner that year.
You don't have to do that but I'm here to tell you that it's more than ok if you do.
Stay home and eat pizza and binge watch Netflix movies.
Pretend the holiday isn't happening if you need to.
Close the curtains, stay in your pajamas, and cry all day until you fall asleep on the couch if you must.
I get it. I've been there. It's awful and you will make it through.
Do what you have to do to get through. There will be more turkey days in your future.
If you are someone who just lost someone and are new to this grief thing........I'm sending you a huge hug and so much love.
To see that empty chair at the holiday table is hard. And I'd love to tell you that you don't notice that empty chair as the years go by, but you do. I still notice the empty chair. And it still burns my heart but I have found some peace and acceptance. I now look at the empty chair and I smile about all those years that the chair was filled with his smile, his laughter, his never-ending stories, and his warmth.
So this turkey day run away if you have to.
Stay home if you want to.
Go be with family and friends if that's what your heart needs you to do.
Remember your loved one. Take a quiet moment to fill your heart and mind with all the memories of the holidays you shared with them when they were on this earth. Write those memories down if you have the energy to. Light a candle by their picture. Allow yourself to cry and feel your emotions. Hunker down in your blanket fort with a bottle of wine and sad country tunes if you want to. It's ok. You are going to be ok. Maybe not this turkey day. Maybe not the next. But eventually you will feel ok and you will rejoin the holiday festivities or you will decide to volunteer to put some joy into the hearts of those who don't have anywhere to go.
I'm thinking of you this holiday week.
Keep my words in your mind and your loved one in your heart, Nik