I didn’t know what to expect as I neared my first Thanksgiving without my dad.
I’m doing the normal week-before-Thanksgiving things. On the outside I look like it’s all fine. I’m making sure I know what I’m going to cook, who will be here, if I remembered everyone’s favorites, when I will get to the grocery store, etc. There are a thousand details that need to happen and they happen while I’m still working and doing regular every day things.
But on the inside, somewhere in the back of my mind, my subconscious must be working double-time. Tears come out of nowhere and I hear phrases my dad used to say popping into my head. Except he isn’t here for me to call and I can’t hear his voice. I wonder briefly why we don’t record our loved ones voices to listen to later. I worry about my mom in her grief and how lonely it all must be, especially since we are separated geographically. The thoughts tumble in my mind with a longing and a heartache that is difficult to explain.
So now I find myself in the strangest place of blessing and thankfulness alongside despair and sadness. I’ve been fighting that, thinking it needed to be one or the other. How can I be thankful and planning my Thanksgiving dinner at the same time I’m crying about my dad? I used to equate sad with bad and happy with good, always trying to prevent sad things entirely. The thing about living though, is it’s all jumbled up together.
We can be both sad and happy, thankful and heartsick.
It isn’t either/or. It’s both.
I don’t know what you’re facing as we approach Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s all good, or maybe you have some heartache you are facing too. Maybe trying to juggle all the feelings is exhausting for you too. Let’s just give ourselves permission be. Maybe our emotions aren’t meant to be figured out, labeled and dealt with so much as just let them be.
Maybe it’s okay to be happy and sad. It can be good and hard.
Let’s be gentle with ourselves in the coming days.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4