The holiday season harbors a sweet contradiction. We gather around full tables. We feast until our stomachs protest, until we collapse on the couch in a food coma. We eat and we drink and we enjoy the bounties of the year, the gifts of our family and friends. It feels good, so very, very good.
And it is a simultaneously a season of longing. quiet moments masking an internal cacophony of regret and longing and grief and sadness. We miss the ones who are far away, the ones we have lost. The ones that are gone, the ones that were never here. We want things to be different, we want what we cannot have.
This Thanksgiving I remembered my friend, who died 17 years ago in a car crash. She has now been dead as long as she was alive. I was mourning her absence, feeling the echoing hole that her departure left inside of me so many years ago, and in that moment of missing her a turkey vulture soared above me, the Great Purifier. Call it God, call it science, but there is a mysterious force around us and above us. Something which takes the dead and decaying and turns it into life, into that which sustains us. And in a strange dance we can transform grief into merriment, our losses into the joy and essence of life
Life is an undulation, it is a gentle swaying between the dark and the light. A step forward, a slide backward. So we gather for another holiday. We hold each others hands while old songs play on the radio and we laugh about the days which live on in our memories and collective recollections. We are sad, but our grief allows us to feel more poignantly the joys of what we do have. We can taste the sweetness of pie and the tartness of the cranberries and we can take it all in, every bite. In this way we honor the ghosts that haunt the quiet moments, but embrace the living, embrace our life.