It is October, always my favorite time of year. It usually seems forever getting from the sticky misery of August in Georgia to the cool crisp refreshing relief October brings. This year it seems like it has been one really long week. The days turned into weeks without my notice and now September is a memory. That seems impossible.
The world has pretty much resumed business as usual and I have made a halfhearted attempt at rejoining life as much as possible.
Leaves are already changing and fall is coming on early this year. Normally I am looking forward to Thanksgiving --my personal favorite holiday. At the hospital yesterday the magazine I was killing time with had recipes for Thanksgiving meals. That normally would have caught my eye and been good for at least a half hour of time-wasting in a waiting room planning and dreaming about our holiday meal. Instead it made me remember last year. The first Thanksgiving in over twenty-five years that I did not cook! Being my favorite holiday it was tough to give that over to someone else but doing all of the holidays had gotten pretty tough and I was really wanting a break.
Kara, like me, loved to entertain and volunteered to try her first big holiday. We all agreed to pitch in with a favorite dish but she did the hard part and baked the turkey and agreed to have it at her house. Our family is pretty big (17) and that is no easy feat. I could not believe at her age she really wanted to tackle that but tackle it she did! And did a great job and truly seemed to enjoy it.
The turkey was the best I'd ever tasted; tender juicy and delicious. She was so proud until at the end of the meal when she discovered the bag of giblets still in their paper wrapped and cooked thoroughly while tucked neatly into the fold of skin at the neck! She was embarrassed and looked like she might cry until we all said we should have thought of that years ago if we'd known it would have made it that good! Then we all started laughing and telling her that made for a great family funny story to tell at every Thanksgiving from now on and assured her it was still the best turkey we'd ever had!
The table was set to perfection. She had worked for days. Only a mom that has done this for forty years can appreciate all the work and all the love that went into that meal. It made me very proud and made me feel that our family holidays would carry on. Something I had worried about because no one else had ever wanted to host them and I was getting old and tired. Probably forty years of huge family holidays accelerated that process.
I really was amazed at a 28 year old taking on such a big family and though she said she was nervous she pulled it off and made it look effortless.
Thanksgiving will mark the first of our family holidays without our whole family. My favorite holiday, my favorite time of year -- forever marred. As I understand it the first year is the hardest. Because of all of the "firsts" that you go through with an empty place at the table. Ours will not be "an" empty chair. Ours will be an overwhelming emptiness as three empty chairs leave the table and our lives - feeling like a dark hollow cave. One...any single one of them would have been devastating - all three? - There are no words that can come close. How do you find a "new normal" with that? There is nothing normal about such great a loss.
Brian, our funny, cut up, keep everyone laughing kid. The one everyone gravitated to; the practical joker; the family goofball. The center of all the funny family stories...
Kara, the beautiful breath of fresh air that was graciously blown into our family bringing love and laughter not only to Brian's life but into all of our lives...
And Paxton, our funny, wild, energetic little surprise baby that taught me so much about what was really important in his short sweet life...
It is going to be difficult to feel Thankful this year - but we must because we still have precious loved-ones with us. I so wish we had been more thankful for all we still had last year.