Remembering Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is Matt’s favourite holiday.

Last year, Thanksgiving knocked me sidewise.

I couldn’t remember Matt’s last Thanksgiving. It bugged me so much that I had this big hole of lost time with Matt. That I couldn’t remember him enjoying his favourite holiday. From what I’ve been able to piece together from our families, he was feeling pretty rough and may not have enjoyed it very much.

But what happened after Thanksgiving was too clear.

The day after Thanksgiving, we were at the hospital for an appointment with our oncologist. I hung back after the appointment and he told me that Matt would live for a few more weeks. I said, “Christmas?” He said, “No.”

I remember how it felt to come home to Ellie and hold her as I laid on the floor and sobbed. I remember not telling Matt what the oncologist had said.

From Thanksgiving to November 9 last year, I was living a flashback. I remember how rough Matt felt and I remember how hard we were holding on.

I’m worried that the flashbacks will happen again this year. I’m worried that Thanksgiving will lead to another spiral.

But I’m also choosing to remember before.

Thanksgiving is Matt’s favourite holiday.

There are lots of Thanksgivings before last year and the last one.

He loves the turkey–the bigger the better. He’s particular about his potatoes–and must mash them personally. He and his brothers have their own language when they are together (obscure movie quotes that are meaningless to everyone else).

Ellie and I have been working on finding the joy and the love and the gratitude–as we always do.

We’ve been writing what we’re thankful for on paper leaves and sticking them on our thankful tree. Ellie made a picture at preschool of her and Daddy “when they were turkeys.” I found a fortune laying on the ground behind our car that says, “Someone is looking out for you.”

It is so, so hard that Matt is not here in the way I wish he was. But I am thankful for every way he is with us.

Happy Thanksgiving. Whatever your situation, I hope that you can find happiness today.


6 thoughts on “Remembering Thanksgiving

  1. Not knowing personally how that feels, I’ll offer a virtual hug to you and Ellie. Those times are bound to be hard. I like Ellie’s art. And you do help her to remember her Daddy and that’s very good, hard as it must be.

    • Thank you for the hug, Carolyn. I was so touched to see her picture of her and Daddy. He doesn’t make a lot of pictures for obvious reasons, but when he’s in one I feel like I am being a bit successful at making him part of her life. I had to take a minute when I saw it, but it was happier than it was hard.

  2. This grief journey is testament to the power of your love. How sweet Ellie’s art is! I know, without ever having met Matt, that he would have loved it. Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

  3. I took one look at the picture of Matt and Ellie on your notice post and thought, “he doesn’t look well.” Your next words slapped me like a bag of cement, so unprepared for them as I was. I am so sorry, Julia. Sorry that the world has lost such a kind, loving human being; sorry that Ellie has lost her father so early in her life; and, most of all, sorry that you have lost the man you have loved for more than half of your life. I’m glad you feel his presence, protecting you, guiding you, and comforting you. Peace be with you.

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