As we enter this week, many of us will be experiencing joy and gratitude in many different ways: Kids coming home from college, family getting together for the holidays, bountiful feasts on the table and so much more. I will be one of those people focusing on what I am grateful for because it’s what has provided some of the strength and comfort to help me overcome what I’ve lost this year.
I’m not going to lie, this will be a tough week. Thanksgiving is like the spark that lights the holiday candle. I’m fastening my emotional seatbelt tight. Every time I hear those damn jingle bells on a TV commercial or a song, I want to kick Rudolph where the sun doesn’t shine. I’ve been numb all weekend. Maybe it’s because the weather has been gloomy, or maybe It’s because I’ve literally been numb by a surgery I just had (nothing big folks, just some girl stuff I needed to take care of). In any case, I had a lot of time to lay in bed or on the couch and sometimes I found myself staring at pictures that are on my wall of my late husband and thinking about why this happened to him. But it did. So I continue to deal with his loss and I continue to grieve at the most unexpected times.
Today I was looking for a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe which I keep in a file cabinet in a folder labeled, “RECIPES”. As I reached for the folder, my eye caught one that was labeled, “Cards from Mose.” I kept every card and note he ever gave me. It’s a pretty thick file folder, and I decided to sit on the floor and read them today. I had a good cry; one of those where you just have to reach for that box of tissue because the tears flow faster than you can wipe them away with your hand. I just let it go today. I hadn’t had a good sob like that for awhile so I was due for one.
As I sifted through birthday, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day cards, I found one that really spoke to me today. It was a card he gave me the day after we got into a big argument. I remember the day vividly. For some reason, I was feeling down about all of the things I didn’t have with him. Since we were a blended family and our children were already teenagers, having a child with him was out of the question. That always bothered me about our relationship. He was my high school sweetheart but we had reunited as adults and we had our own children from our previous marriages. I would bring it up often, but this particular night it hit a spark with him and he looked at me and told me that he was getting tired of hearing it. I was so offended I started to cry and I literally didn’t speak to him the rest of the night. No matter how mad he was at me (or me at him the next morning) he would always hug and kiss me goodbye because he always told me, “You never know if today will be your last.” This particular morning I turned my head when he went to kiss me. I was leaving for a business trip and I thought to myself, “I’ll show him. I won’t kiss him goodbye then he’ll feel guilty for a few days about what he said to me since I won’t be around.” He must have gone to the store to pick up this card because it was sitting in the front seat of my car when I left the house – this is what he wrote inside:
I share this with you because after I read this the day he left it for me I felt like such an ungrateful brat. Here I was with two beautiful children of my own and two amazing beautiful stepchildren, and I was looming on what I didn’t have vs. what I should have been celebrating. Leave it to this amazing man to always be the reminder of what the definition of gratitude was. I remember calling him right away and telling him how I promised to minimize the attitude and maximize the gratitude. I also remember telling him that I was grateful that he always guided me to see the good. In hindsight I am so thankful that I constantly reminded him of how much that meant to me. As I read this today, the tears turned to smiles as I felt like he and I celebrated our own personal Thanksgiving together because it reminded me of what I was grateful for and continue to be grateful for. I had a conversation with him after I read the card today and told him everything I was grateful for at that moment:
- I am grateful for our children because they are a reflection of us and seeing small gifts of kindness and grace in each of them reminds me that you will always be here with us.
- I am grateful for the heartache because it’s proof that I had so much love in my life.
- I am grateful that you always reminded me that gratitude is the best attitude.
- I am grateful for you teaching me that it is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.
- I am grateful for living in the moment with you each and every day we were together.
- I am grateful for all of the goodbye kisses you gave me, no matter how mad we were at each other.
As we enter the holidays I plan to give a gift to myself. One of my friends just lost her mother and I noticed a beautiful necklace she was wearing that included an etched note of her mother’s handwriting. I plan to take the “I Love You” from this card and have it etched on a necklace because it will always remind me of the gifts I’ve been given from the love of my life. I will share it with you once I receive it. I put the order in today after I read this card and I can’t wait to carry around gratitude everywhere I go. Happy Thanksgiving week, everybody. There is always something to be thankful for.