It’s Thanksgiving. A time that our house usually fills to the brim with friends and family. We have at least one casserole per person and enough turkey to last us for days of leftover turkey sandwiches. We have cranberries, Grandpa Filosa’s Stuffing, the weird Jello Salad (that my brother and I secretly love), sweet potatoes galore and then a whole table full of desserts. There is certainly an abundance.
There is a small part of me that wants to be bitter and angry. My mom is supposed to be here. She and I are supposed to add too much butter to the mashed potatoes when everyone else looks away. She is supposed to do her usual Thanksgiving toast before we all dig-in. She was supposed to write down all the little kitchen tricks that she only knew so I could attempt to re-create her dishes. All these things and so much more, in the plan I had imagined. But God has other plans.
And while a part of me wants to be angry and bitter this holiday season, a much larger piece is grateful for the abundance that my mom left us with. Even though she is gone, we have an amazing tribe of friends and family that are relentless with their love for us and each other. We have a house full of warm memories. We have stores of stories to be told for ages to come. Certainly an abundance.
I was talking to a good friend after my mom passed away, telling her how my Dad, brother and I had a regular conference call most weeknights around 10:30. How my mom’s friends wrote the bulk of the thank-you cards for us because there were just. so. many. How my aunts, uncles and cousins have been checking in and making sure we are clued-in to the happenings of everyone’s life. She looked at me and said, “I know you’ve been through so much so I hate to say this but Em, you’re so lucky.” She went on to say that with her parents divorced, if something happened to her mom, her dad would probably be even further estranged from her and her sister. Her mom had several girlfriends but none she considered that would write hundreds of thank-you notes on her behalf. She said rather than bringing family and friends together, an unexpected death in her family could be disastrous.
I had been so well taken care of that I hadn’t considered the possibility of going through something like this without such support. How does anybody make it? How could this be done alone? Life is hard, but even still, it could be worse.
We learn to do things on our own. My dad is making a turkey at Thanksgiving for the first time. I’ll make the macaroni and cheese over the phone with my cousin, like my mom used to. My brother is making the stuffing like my mom used to. And so many friends are working to recreate so many of my mom’s recipes, saying they want it to be exactly the same, which is appreciated but already a lost battle. It will be different but it will still be celebratory. A celebration that we’ve made it thus far, that we had such a great mother and that the turkey is moist and decadent (You got this, Dad!). A celebration for sure.
Whistle: Adding extra butter on my own, knowing my mom would be egging me on to do it.