Around My Table

This is my third Thanksgiving without my husband. The fifth without my father, the second without Mama. I’ve trudged through the previous holidays, numb, trying not to feel, not feeling what I wanted to feel. This year, I’m ready to face it head on.

There will be ten around my table. We’ve all experienced great loss. Husband, wife, brother, father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, stepfather. It’s like the past has fallen out from under us. What was normal has been ripped away, and now there’s a new normal.

Filling one of the chairs around my table is a tiny boy, one and a half, who carries forward the name of his great-grandfather and his stepfather, both of whom died before they knew about this child. But here he is, walking, talking, laughing, taking things apart, riding his four wheeler, and he and his twin sister are carrying us, the older ones, into a future where everything is new. This boy and girl are symbols of springs that come after winters, of fresh life that comes out of an empty void.

How do we let the old go? We don’t. It’s always there, our base, part of us. But we’ve gotten this far by calling up every bit of substance within us, shouldering into it, and taking steps. We walk, we move ahead, we embrace the new and find joy in it.

Life is brief, fragile, and unrepeatable. Don’t we know it. This Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful that I am able to grasp it and hold it and cherish it.

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