Last year I could barely walk through the grocery store during the holidays. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite and the thought of even buying ingredients was too much. This year, I told myself that it wasn’t right to stop celebrating. Tin wouldn’t want that at all. So I took a deep breath, swallowed what felt like a rock in my throat and grabbed a turkey. My eyes welled up and I told myself to go checkout. I had to go to the store three separate times to buy what I needed because I would hit a breaking point each time. Seasonings, cider, wine, apple pie, butter – God did Tin love butter. Those tears started in the dairy aisle and I had to go check out.
All things gathered and I could prep. I had the turkey ready for the next morning and the bread for stuffing drying out in the oven. I was making my way through it all by cooking only my favorites. I felt comfortable as I created the culinary traditions of my youth. I was floating in and out of nostalgic memories full knowing it was only because I was avoiding the reminder recipes – The Guarded Gourmet.
I woke up on Thanksgiving and fought to get out of bed. I had made it this far but putting that turkey into the oven meant I was moving forward without him. I never thought that the closing of an oven door could feel like the closing of a chapter in my life. The sound was deafening as I felt the preheat dissipating replaced by a chill reminding me his warmth was gone. I sat on the kitchen floor and cried.
Hours later, I pulled myself together and gathered up what I was bringing to a friend’s. A small group, which helped reduced the anxiety. I moved through the holiday catching manageable memories like compartmentalized condiments off to the side that I could see but choose not to use – but there is always grief in the gravy.
As we wrapped up the evening, conversation lead to how many Thanksgivings it had been since I had been home with family. I couldn’t remember so I started counting back and realized it was a road map though my loss. This was the second without Tin. Then the first. Then his last. Then our first in our new found beach life. Our last in Atlanta. Our first together. My last before we met.
Now I find myself Thanks-Grieving…