It is Thanksgiving Eve and for the first time in my life I am preparing for the holiday without my mother. I am planning to cook the things that she would cook for both our extended and immediate family gatherings. I am using the recipes that she left behind, but there are still so many things that are missing. A measurer, your Maw Maw was not, so there will be much guess work in how much of this or that to include. I am reminded of the time she tried to teach me to make potato salad and I asked how many potatoes to use. My mama looked at me like I was crazy. “I don’t know” she told me “whatever you have.” The potato salad turned out awesome, but I have no idea how to do it again, every ingredient was put in until there was “enough”.
As we start this holiday of thankfulness I find myself torn. Several times over that past few weeks I have found myself thinking “I am so blessed” only to catch myself and become angry. How can I feel that I am blessed when I have lost someone so vital to my life, in fact the very person to whom I owe my life? The fact is that I can feel that way because although my life has been painted with tragedy, it is only one of the many brushstrokes God has spread across my life. When I watch you and your brothers playing I know that I have been blessed, when I watch you sleep or listen to you pray, I know that there is something greater than me at work, and whatever it is has chosen to give me things far beyond what I deserve. Because the fact is that often the things we get are not at all commensurate with what we deserve; that goes for both the good and the bad, sweet girl.
So sometimes we have to simply be thankful for what we do have. I am thankful for each day that I get to wake up healthy, with a roof over my head and food in my stomach. I am thankful for the family that was chosen for me. I have cousins whom I love like siblings and a sibling whom I love as my own child. I have children who I would do anything in my power for. I was given parents who did the same for me. They raised me with love and compassion. I lived in a house filled with laughter and affection. We didn’t always have money when I was growing up, but I never went without anything that I needed and most often got everything I wanted too. I am safe in the knowledge that I was loved and cherished and that as I grew, though my parents stepped back and let me spread my wings, they never stopped loving or cherishing me. I am thankful for the model of motherhood that my mother set for me, so that I can be confident in my abilities as a mother for you and your brothers. I am thankful that even now, though my mother is gone, she left me in the loving hands of her sisters and brothers. I am thankful that I still have an amazing daddy and that I can talk openly with him and share both my happiness and pain. I am thankful for my friends that have stood by me not just through tragedy, but who have also shared in my joys through the years. I am thankful to have a partner in life and not simply a husband. Your daddy is truly my best friend and not everyone gets to share their life with someone like that. I am thankful that he has supported not just me, but also my family, when we needed it, and that when I told him I needed to stay with you and your brothers instead of returning to work, he never batted an eye. Together, we’re doing what needs to be done.
And I am so thankful for you and your brothers, the three of you are what oftentimes keep me going. I am thankful for your innocence and your humor, your intelligence and your honesty, and I am thankful for the way that you make me laugh and the joy that you bring to my life. I am thankful that although sometimes bad things happen that we do not deserve, sometimes good things do too. You three are my proof that wishes are granted and even when a heart breaks, it does not stop loving, because each day you fill mine more and more.
I will try not to be angry with myself the next time I have one of you wrapped in my arms or sleeping soundly next to me and I think, “I am blessed.” I will try to acknowledge that the statement is true in many ways. I will try to be thankful, even when it is hard.
I love you, sweet girl.