Thanksgiving for me isn't about family or even giving thanks. For me it was about that time I spent in the kitchen with my grandmother. Watching her move effortlessly around the kitchen. Never once pulling out a cook book but remembering how to make a dozen different dishes from memory. The warmth of the kitchen from the oven having been on constantly since the day before. Her and I talking about everything and her trying to instill in me some sort of culinary skill that I really never retained.
This Thanksgiving I thought of her, and I was sad for her. Not because I wasn't there with her on that day but because I knew that her mind was filled with her own memories and her own sadness. I was sad because I could feel her grief from 500 miles away.
She told me this week that come hell or high water she was planning to move in December. I figured that would put us in Missouri right around Christmas time, to help her finish packing, and to help her move. Getting her moved and settled will be the last major hurdle to overcome. Of the two hurdles already jumped this should be the easiest one. Easier than deciding to turn off the machines and easier than burying. As Thomas said to me, "This is a light at the end of the tunnel." He's right, it is. The physical portion of this death is finally coming to a close, but it's the emotional part that I'm almost certain I haven't sprinted past yet. Keeping my brain and my body occupied with other things can only help me for so long. At some point I'm going to have to grieve and then let go.
A part of me thinks my grandmother chose to move in December to keep herself occupied as well. Stay busy with other things so as to "forget" that Christmas is upon us. A holiday that to me does mean family. A holiday that meant all of us being together in the living room, each opening one gift at a time. A loud crazy night filled with love. Those are the memories that make my heart hurt more than I could ever describe. The memories of how just a few short years ago I took Thomas "home" for Christmas and he was absolutely blown away with how overwhelmingly Christmas-y everything was. I am so grateful for that. So very grateful for that particular night to be so alive in my mind. The night I cried with laughter and cried with happiness. For the diamond stud earrings Thomas gave me that I had been wanting for so long. For the ring my mom surprised me with. The ring my father had given her when he asked her to marry him. And mostly because she finally believed it was time for me to have it. I had become enough of a "grown-up" to have it and as I cried she cried and she hugged me and told me she loved me. In my heart I know there will never be another Christmas like one. It can't be recreated. But there will be other Christmas', full of love and family and new traditions. I will always think of her though. I will always remember the look on her face, the look of pure joy, when she saw my surprise at receiving the ring. She was so happy.
One holiday down, one more to go. This year all I want for Christmas is for it to be over with.