Thanksgiving 2011 was the last holiday my mother lived to see. I hear Grandma’s voice in my head (regrets are as useful as tits on a bull, Katy) but still, I find them creeping in, uninvited guests that stay long past their welcome.
It was a special day, the last Thanksgiving. My coworkers gave us a full Turkey dinner, more than enough delicious food to feed the family for days on end. Mom was strong enough to eat a little and enjoy the company of her dear ones. The day was full of gifts from start to finish.
But I was tired. I was angry. I was overwhelmed with the relatively simple task of reheating our Thanksgiving feast from AJ’s. I tried to coordinate everything seamlessly, and never before had it been so difficult to ensure all the food was simultaneously hot to be served for our 10 or so family members. I had mixed success, and it frustrated me. Thank god I didn’t try to actually cook. When I wasn’t feeling full of gratitude and surrounded by love from all directions, Thanksgiving found me to be an irritable bitch.
I know Thanksgiving also carried sadness for Mom. She always loved to cook huge meals for her family members during the holidays, and she always make it look easy. Her eyes grew glassy when she saw me running around the kitchen and she said softly “I’m sorry I can’t help.”
I was sorry too, profoundly sorry.
I know I told her that day that I loved her, I was grateful for her. But I was fearful, and the months of protracted loss had chewed me up and left my insides looking like a seasonal squash. I was angry that I was sharing my last Thanksgiving with my mother. I had lots of expectations to let go of- years ahead of beautiful holiday dinners, perfectly prepared, cooked with her at my side. I did the best I could do, but I wish that I could have released, let go, allowed myself to be rooted in that special day, that special moment, and feel the joy of having her with me, of being her daughter.
She knew my heart as well as anyone, and she knew I loved her. I just wish I could have done things differently. It would have been more enjoyable for everyone involved.
This Thanksgiving I miss her, but I have also done some recovery. I have a wonderful life, full of blessings. Today my heart isn’t like a the limp guts of a stringy squash; rather my heart is full of gratitude for a multitude of things, but especially gratitude that my life started with this tremendous woman, that I was able to know her and call her “Mom” and share my life with her for 31 years.
Thanks for the wonderful memories, Mom. You were incredible.