It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Thanksgiving is Matt’s favourite holiday. He loved the food and being together with family–and had very definite opinions on the importance of both.
It’s hard to mark Thanksgiving without him.
Yet, I am thankful.
I am thankful for our life. The choices we made, the things we have done, the opportunities we created.
I won’t say tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I honestly can’t yet. It hurts a lot to lose this love.
There is this one terrible hole in my life. And yes, it’s a huge and terrible hole.
But there’s one. Only one.
In so many other ways, I am incredibly fortunate. I know that. I never take it for granted. I appreciate it so very much.
The kindness of the people around us, the peace of this farm, the joy of our girl, good food, a safe home, financial stability, the option to continue to make choices, the chance to feel like myself and do things that matter to me. I am thankful for this and so much more.
We have a good life.
I am thankful for everything that Matt did–and does–to make that possible.
Happy Thanksgiving, Julia. A day late. I too, grew up with a huge hole after my brother was killed in a car accident when I was nine. But I think what was even worse was that my grief so distressed others in my family that I was strongly encouraged to suppress it. I can’t count the number of other ways it tried to come out throughout my life. Now I respond like a divining rod to the unexpressed grief of others, and with the pandemic going on I feel like there’s a veritable ocean of tears all around us, needing to be cried. I’m always grateful to see grief openly and honestly being felt and expressed. The fact that the hole is so huge and terrible is a testament to the enormous presence that Matt was in your heart and in your life. This is a year of firsts, and some of the firsts may be less keenly painful when they are seconds, thirds, etc. But the reverberation will continue down the years; this I know. And in a way, that’s something to be thankful for as well. I wouldn’t ever want to forget entirely. xoxo
Thank you for a lovely, affirming, supportive, kind message. I tend to put what I’m feeling into words–whether written or said–and fortunately the people around me support me in that. I’m sorry for your loss and the gaps in support that you had, which probably made the hole deeper and wider. The reverberations are, in some ways, a comfort for me, and I hope your brother has come to be that for you as well.
How hard that must have been to not have an outlet for your grief. I’m sorry you went through that.
Thank you both so much. We have learned a lot in the intervening years about the grief of children. Back then (’75) it was thought that children didn’t really understand what was going on. There was no such thing as grief counselling. I understood what happened in a single instant, and the unconscious trust that things were real and solid – the bedrock of childhood – basically ended in that moment. Where counselling would have been helpful was to validate whatever form and shape my grief took, and to help me understand what was made worse by magical thinking on my part. It’s taken so long to unravel these things on my own.
The reverberation has come to be a comfort now that I no longer am expected (expect myself) to avoid the grief. The grief itself has morphed into something far more complex than just the loss of my brother, though that is obviously at the heart of it.
More complex than just the loss of my brother, though that is obviously at the heart of it. Likewise for you, Julia, I would guess that the grief of raising a child alone when you planned to do it together, and of Ellie growing up without her father physically present, have become part of those reverberations, changing and growing them. In so many things to do with grief, there is bittersweetness – without one side, we would not have the other. Without Matt, you would not have Ellie. Without Ellie, you would not have the grief of raising her without Matt by your side. In the end, it can only be hoped that the sweetness outweighs the pain in most of the moments. I think that balance can slowly shift over time, like paying down the interest on a loan, if that makes sense. There’s never a payment without at least a chip off the principal, or one without a tiny fraction of interest owed. (As my metaphors careen from the poetic to the prosaic!)
I appreciate you being so open. I think we all have that “unconscious trust that things were real and solid.” We have to. Or else how would we get through life? Partnering with someone, raising children, improving ourselves is rooted in a certain faith that things are real and solid. Through Matt’s illness I couldn’t live in constant fear. It was there, but I worked really hard to focus on the real and solid that we had on any given day. The reverberations that come from his death don’t negate the real and solid that still exists here. And I can’t fear the what-ifs for myself or Ellie. This is life, and we have to take sweetness and pain together.
Julia I think you have a wonderful perspective of things. I hope the happy memories continue to far outweigh the grief
Thank you, Sarah. I work at it, and they usually do.