November is an emotionally loaded month for me, always has been.
I do okay for the first couple of weeks, still coming down off my Halloween high, then the end of the month starts to get closer and closer and closer.
Thanksgiving is one of those holidays filled with family drama and emotional baggage. All the feelings.
This year will be different though, because it just will.
I know that going in.
It will be different because both of my parents are gone. The guilt about not being where I feel like I should is gone. There are no more heart wrenching phone calls. No more wishing I could be in two places at once. No more regretting moving far away, no more second guessing what things might have been like.
It's just, well, over.
Thanksgiving is always hard anyway because my father's birthday falls during that week. He wouldn't want us to be sad, so we try not to be. We tell stories about the silly things he did, we eat cherry cheesecake, and we usually break out National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation since it was always one of his favorite movies, and one that we got the green light to watch once Thanksgiving was over and done with.
Thanksgiving is also hard because it was the holiday that motivated my mother to get out of the hospital after her first amputation. She wanted to be here, with us, and she was. Nothing else about that time, the years before, or the years after would be simple and easy, but for that moment in time, she and I wanted the same thing. We both worked hard to make it happen. She was here, with us, around the table that year.
I'm not conflicted about where I should be anymore. There's no one left to tug at my heart to go other places. No one that I need to try and call over and over and over again until I can get through. No messages I am waiting for.
I won't have to explain to the kids why we couldn't be somewhere else with someone else right now.
We can just be here.
We can just be.
Maybe this is the silver lining in the clouds of grief. Maybe this is the reprieve from the sadness and loss. Maybe this is the thing that comes in and fills the void left by those who are gone.
Maybe this freedom to live fully in the moment without second guessing myself, to be fully present instead of wishing I could be in another place, to be entirely here and now, maybe this is the gift hidden in grief.
We spend so much of our lives trying to do the right thing, to be the right kind of people, to make the right choices, to please those we love. We do this for many reasons, not the least of which is that as a child, no matter how old we are, we never want to disappoint our parents.
I don't have anyone to disappoint anymore.
It's freeing, in a bizarre way that I sense only those walking the earth without parents anymore can understand.
I can just be here.
I can just be.
I can be where I should have been all along, where I needed to be, where I was almost all the time, but I can be here without regret now.
That is a gift.
It's one I didn't want, this is true, but it's one that I am grateful for anyway.
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