Earlier I read "Time Goes By" and Grumpy Old Lady's Thanksgiving post -- a must read for all. I unabashedly say, my emotions were so affected that I knew I must write a few thoughts of my own.
I'm planning to spend my first Thanksgiving, ever, alone. Probably others have had this experience, but it will be new for me. I don't feel a sense of trepidation about being alone for this holiday -- that's just the way it is.
Family wanted me to travel to be with them, but as much as I would have enjoyed their company, I simply didn't look forward to the process involved in getting there, then needing to return home quickly, as I have work the next day. In those travel instances I would have needed to go half-way, or all the way across the country. There are no other family members here, nor are there family between here and where those loved ones live. I'm sure there are many others for whom there is also a separation from those for whom we care, and they us, due to geographic distance this holiday.
So each of us adjusts in our own special ways to being physically alone. I don't really feel alone. I'm surrounded by memories and memorabilia, plus there will be some activities I'll want to undertake around the house. There will likely be phone calls, but even if there aren't, we just emailed and spoke on the phone within the past day or so, and likely will again before the coming weekend has passed. Still, because of this first, being alone, I wouldn't be surprised if thoughts should enter my mind of previous holidays with family and friends who are no longer living.
I've realized, for at least the past ten or fifteen years there would be a diminishing number of loved ones living nearby in the years ahead. I've known most of my life that this possibility would probably eventually become a reality. I just know it in quite a different way now, because it has become a reality. Certainly I experienced the loss of loved family members and friends even as a young person, and periodically during the ensuing years. Some succumbed to accidents, others to disease, including a self-initiated departure. Some were very young, others older. Some were even said to have led a long full life, thus were ready to depart this world. But there was that loss which somehow signaled what was to come.
I was most impacted with the realities of life and death when my mother died sixteen years ago, a few short days after Thanksgiving. There was something about the loss of a beloved parent, which resulted in my realization a significant life change had occurred. I was now part of the oldest generation. My mother was 89 years old, only four months from being 90 yrs of age. She had lived about ten years longer than her mother lived. Mother's last two years were not as I would have wanted them to be, especially considering she was mentally alert almost until the last breath she took while I was by her side.
Since that day, there has been an increased sense of keen awareness of loss each time another loved family member or friend is no longer present in the world in which I now exist. I am most aware of that sensitivity this particular Thanksgiving, my first without my husband. Certainly I accept I may suddenly feel flooded with emotion for seemingly no reason of which I am consciously aware. That doesn't happen often any more, but it still happens. I am no longer as surprised as I was the first time it occurred after some period of what I thought was emotional resolution. Whatever the feelings, whenever they may occur, they will be welcomed, another part of life, and maybe part of this holiday.
This Thanksgiving I am acutely aware of how very much for which I am thankful ... my family ... my friends ... new friends and acquaintances I've made in this virtual world who are uniquely real ... memories ... health ... hope ... anticipation of the future. Most of all, I'm simply glad to be alive.