It’s Thanksgiving Day. The Christmas lights are going up in town. My first holiday without Sandy. But through my heartbreak, I still give thanks for everything I’ve had with her over the past 17 years. Today is no different reallly than any other day… I’m thankful and filled with gratitude everyday… sadness mixed with amazement. To have had her in my life for so long is a blessing beyond words.
This was always a special holiday for us and our tradition was to go to Sandy’s parent’s home (and the one she grew up in) about an hour and a half away. Her brother and sister-in-law and nieces will be there. So I’m of course continuing that tradition and am on my way. It will be tough going alone, but I know Sandy will be with us, like she always is. And we’ll remember the Thanksgiving poems she would write every year and read at the table before we ate. They were always heartfelt and humorous, expressing thanks for each family member. Here’s the ending from last year’s poem, not long after her first surgery….
A long time ago, I went through life feeling this sense of, for lack of a better word, protection. I always felt that I was going to be spared any harm or misfortune. And my family and friends would be alright too — all of us protected from harm or bad luck. Wishful thinking perhaps or youthful optimism, but it always seemed more real than that to me.
Over time, that sense of protection slowly eroded away, no matter how hard I tried to believe it was still there. With the deaths of family members and friends, accidents and illness, and everything else that happens to all of us in this life, I had to give up that sense of protection and face the vulnerability of our existence. The final blows to that protection have of course happened in the past few years — with Sandy’s diagnosis… the death of my friend Bob… when I got hit by a truck while riding my bike… Sandy’s death…
And I was reminded of our vulnerability a few days ago when I found out that Nan, a friend on this blog whose young son has a brain tumor — as if that wasn’t enough — her father was in a vehicle accident and is seriously injured. I wrote to her and said… “life and death and everything in between just keeps happening despite our wishes that it stop or at least slow down so we can deal with… our wives…our sons.. Our lives are so unbelievably fragile… one wrong turn… every day and every moment are truly gifts…”
Those words I wrote were all too true…
Last night I found out that a friend of mine died in a car accident on an icy mountain road near here yesterday morning. I had seen her just a few days ago, full of her usual joy and sweetness, loving life. Her companion who was driving was seriously injured.
We are all so fragile. The length of our lives is unknown and not guaranteed. There is no protection. We must hold on to this moment, the gift that we are breathing and alive… right now. And live life.
Prayers and peace for Jennifer’s family.
Prayers and healing for Karl.