I know it’s Christmas and not Thanksgiving, but it’s okay to be thankful regardless of the season, right? And as horrible as this year has been for me, I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. This list is in no particular order, and does not cover everyone, not by a long shot. These are the scenarios standing out in my mind at this particular moment in time. Even if you are not on this list, know I appreciate your friendship, your support, your love, your laughter. It takes a village to hold up a grieving author, and you all have succeeded in spades. Now, on to the individual thanks…
I am thankful for my best friend, who, the day after I called to tell her the devastating news of my son’s death, flew across country twice in one day, just to get here to be with me during the most difficult few days of my life. I am thankful for a billion other reasons, too, but there isn’t enough space to go through each and every one. Just know this: I got the bonus package in the best friend lottery.
I am thankful for my husband, who, when I tried to blame myself for our son’s death, refused to even let me finish the sentence. And who has never once criticized or questioned or condescended the oceans of tears I’ve shed since March. Not only that, but when the waterworks start, he automatically pulls me into his arms and lets me soak whatever shirt he’s wearing at the time. It takes a real man not to get sick of his openly grieving wife, when his version of grieving is to internalize it.
I am thankful for my daughter, who has suffered more than any eleven-year-old should, and yet is one of the happiest, most cheerful, intelligent, gorgeous kids I know. And yes, I’m biased. But seriously, this kid has weathered this storm far better than I have. She actually likes to talk about her brother, to collect items that remind her of him, to cling to his memory. She keeps me sane, keeps me grounded, and I know she will never forget those years she wasn’t an only child.
I am thankful for my family, all of them, but especially my siblings and their significant others, my parents, my inlaws, my husband’s siblings and spouses, my nieces and nephews. I needed you all, and you were there. Your unwavering support has been worth its weight in gold. And silver. And titanium.
I am thankful for my friend TR, who, the day after it happened, brought over enough food to feed an army (which was good, since that’s about how many people made their way through our house over the course of that following week), not to mention enough boxes of tissues to last a normal household for a century. And when we ran out a couple weeks ago, she sent more. That’s all besides how helpful she was at the viewing, the funeral, and pretty much any time we needed her.
I am thankful for my friend KL, who grieves the same way I do, and who knows how I feel practically before I do. And who knows when to send a funny text, a serious text, a snarky text, or just sit and drink together, without saying a word. Okay, that’s a lie. We can always find something to talk about. And I always feel better afterward.
I am thankful for NR, who has embraced my daughter so tightly, I’m a little afraid she wants to adopt her. And from that friendship, our own has blossomed. Which is really pretty cool.
I am thankful for my daughter’s teachers and principals. The ones in her elementary school who wrapped her in a little bubble of love, so much so that I dreaded her move to middle school. And I am thankful for her teachers and principal at her new middle school, who have welcomed her with open arms, and who are helping her to excel in a brand new environment, despite the baggage of grief she’s brought with her.
I am thankful for my husband’s besties (Is it okay to call a group of frat brothers “besties”?) and their wives, for a lot of reasons. For the support, for the laughs, for, during his formative college years, helping to mold him into the man he is. And I should probably mention my thankfulness for the contribution his fraternity alumni association made to help cover the funeral expenses. We didn’t even know until the funeral home contacted us and mentioned it.
I am thankful for my writing group, for the friends I have who live all over the globe. Besides the, you know, actual writing aspect of the group, I’m thankful for the friendship, the support. The private conversations when I was suffering through my darkest hours, thinking thoughts best not shared in public. The cards and gifts, including the stuffed animal for my daughter, and the gift card to Bronner’s, to help replace the ornaments I lost when our tree fell over a couple weeks ago. The encouragement, the advice, the never judging, no matter how wacky I’ve sounded in the last nine months (or probably at any time).
I am thankful for my neighbors, my neighborhood. I won the lottery (again—see BFF comment above), and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have settled into this home. Even if it is a thousand miles from the day job (or so it feels, during rush hour).
And I am thankful for you, for reading my blog posts, for your comments and encouragement, while I work my way through this grieving process the only way I know how… By writing.
Some relationships are irreplaceable. And I am thankful for each and every one of them.