Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My mind goes in every direction trying to figure out how to find joy in it. And in this life. We have another year with an empty chair and no Beau to fill it. He would love to be here with his sisters razzing on one another and playing games and getting on each other’s nerves. We would laugh and argue and eat and laugh some more and eat some more. But the empty chair creates longing…longing for what isn’t and what will never be.
I read the Facebook posts of friends and their thanksgiving this Thanksgiving. And they are sweet and sincere and lovely. I have my own set of things to be thankful for, not just this Thanksgiving, but in this life…every day. My gifts…there are many. I know. My heart is full of love for my gifts. My Brenna and my Kendall. My son in law, Aaron. My husband, Don. And there are countless others, of course. But there is this emptiness and keen awareness of the chair that will sit empty…and it is hard to find joy. It is hard to know what to say to God. At times I find myself speechless…arrested in time…bound by the stark reality that is mine. So I don’t say much. My life as I knew it ended three years and almost three months ago. I find myself STILL wondering what could have been had I done this or that. OR … had I NOT done this or that. And I find myself apologizing relentlessly to my son, Beau. “I am sorry, Beau. Please forgive me.” At times like this I think to myself that perhaps it is time for me to call my counselor. She and I call it a “re-charge” for lack of a better word. Holidays have a way of stirring up these thoughts and emotions.
So with all of these feelings comes the question of what to do during the holidays. I used to be social. I am now a hermit. I used to love life…now I survive it. I used to LOVE my job…now I am counting down the days to retirement. I don’t expect people to understand…unless you know the pain of child loss for which there are no words. I saw a DSW ad today that said, “No wrong way to holiday.” An ad…for shoes. Yet it spoke to me. It gave me the reminder that we do what we can. We do what we feel that we have in us to do. We celebrate. Or not. We gather together. Or not. We go to social events. Or not. We do us. Whatever that might be.
For me, I gather. But it is small. It is with my gifts…my children…my family. It is here that I find light and love and joy. In this life, we must find light and love and joy. In this life, we must find beauty. Light is stronger than darkness and I choose to live in light this Thanksgiving.
I miss my son. His empty chair tears me apart. So this Thanksgiving, may that empty chair only remind me of a life that brought me light and love and joy. And may my gifts, past, present, and future, fill my heart with light and love and joy.
And may I remind myself that this is MY way to holiday.