With my second Thanksgiving without Erik right around the corner, I find myself getting multiple flashbacks of all our past Thanksgivings. Thanksgiving was the first time I introduced Erik to my family a decade ago. The thought of another year with an empty seat with his name on it sets in more this second time around. This year definitely hits a little harder. The numbness and shock that helped me through all the “firsts” has worn off more as the months go by. The reality of celebrating these holidays without my husband and my children’s father brings forth the deep aching feeling that sits uneasily in the pit of my stomach and heart.
Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to spend with family and reflect on what you are thankful for in life. But the question that comes up in my mind constantly is, “How can I be thankful for my husband not being here?” It doesn’t even feel like a complete family without Erik. Of course I’m thankful for our beautiful children, but this was not the life I had envisioned. Not for me, them, or him. And I find myself having these thoughts constantly as I see and hear the words Thanksgiving all around me. But how could I still not be thankful for still being here for the twins? For all the love we still have. I ran across an excerpt from “I Look to the Mourning Sky” by Liz Newman that really set the tone for the conflicting feelings I was having over Thanksgiving.
Because the grief sits
at the table where you used to be,
but your love helps me through it
and keeps me company.
And no matter what it brings
to the table, I’ll take my seat,
I’ll face it, I’ll feel it
in honor of your memory.
As I try to look on the “brighter” side of things around this time of year, I am learning to sit with my feelings. Even with sadness in my heart I still try to make sure the twins aren’t affected by my feelings, which isn’t an easy feat. I want them to be able to experience the holidays as we have always wished for them. As they were prior to Erik’s passing. The laughs, the happiness, the love. Today I sat with my feelings and I found that it is okay for me to be sad at the same time as being excited that I still get to make these memories with our kids. So I am thankful for the time Erik and I did have, I am thankful for our beautiful family knowing every butterfly I see is him watching over us, and I am thankful for all the love that is still here. For everyone missing a loved one at the table this Thanksgiving, I hope their love finds ways to sit with you this week. Happy Thanksgiving.