My bedroom is lit with a glow I rarely get to see since I leave early for work during the week and on Saturdays, I’m hurrying out to yoga class. Only on Sunday do I get to linger in bed and enjoy the sun slipping into my room. But today, with a cup of tea at my side and the dog (after a brief walk in the bitter cold) cuddled up beside me, is Thursday – Thanksgiving – and I am appropriately grateful for this sweet opening to the day. It’s quiet. No one seems to be going anywhere so even I-95’s perpetual hum, as constant as a river, is strangely silent. Tip: if you have to go somewhere for Thanksgiving leave early on Thursday.
Molly and I walk across the street later to share the day and what is always a magnificent meal, with neighbors who are like family. This is the holiday I like best – getting together to share a meal, no gifts – just eating with pleasure and catching up with each other and the now adult, kids.
This year, I’m strangely possessed by a festive spirit, at least as far as decorating goes. I’m usually a grinch about it all but I’ve already hung wreaths with twinkly lights. After 21 years of grouchiness I’ve blamed on the exhaustion of working in retail-overdrive, I am ready to embrace it, viewing the enhanced energy of the season as excitement rather than hysteria. I don’t know what’s come over me and can’t guarantee it will last.
Not to over-analyze my jolly-ness but I am feeling the contrast of last year when I was so damn sad. From the time of Rob’s death in October through the end of December, I felt swallowed by grief that surprised me with its depth and weight. We had not spoken in a few months. He’d moved out nearly two years earlier after I finally admitted that I could not pull him out of his darkness. I’d already lost him, I knew that – yet the finality and awfulness of his death hit me like a gut punch.
Someone mentioned it was probably cumulative grief. His demise in so many ways mirroring my husband’s. A year later I am happy, although the roller coaster of grief, anger, bewilderment and questions have not completely disappeared. Time on a couch gave me some insight that helped me but what ultimately cracked my mourning darkness last December, was almost weird.
Wanting to spend the last of my FSA money, I scheduled a series of acupuncture treatments. The woman talked non-stop, asking me questions about myself that she seemed to already know the answer to, rattling off facts about nature, time, space peppered with Eastern wisdom while slipping needles into different parts of my body. I told her I was aching because the man I’d loved had died so sadly. She threw up her hands and said, ‘Are you kidding? He’s having a grand time, off celebrating in the universe! He’s fine!’ And somehow, I wept with what felt like relief, and I believed her. Like that, the cloud of profound grief lifted and has mostly, stayed away.
A year later, with the shift of planets and reminders of the past, bringing me into the darkest days of the season, I hang little lights around my house, burn a fire in the stove, and embrace the night, marveling at the moon through leafless trees. I imagine all that joy happening in the distant universe and I feel it right here.