Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Be Thankful May Not mean You get What you Want

I'm not sure what to write other than there are a tumult of emotions whirling around in my head and heart.
This was supposed to be the first family Thanksgiving for my side of the family since we have all been married. Luke and I have been married almost 9 years. Not once, has my whole family ever been together.
I love being near Luke's family, and even though we love each other, blood family is just different. We have talked about this weekend for a little over a year now. The one weekend where we'd all be together.
Two weeks ago, the day of the anniversary of the death of my nephew, my dad was taken to the ER with "funny" symptoms. He was in Washington DC as a Sponsor with my brother and my brother's Senior Class. The diagnosis: Brain Hemorrhage.
When one hears the word brain hemorrhage, one does not conjure up very positive things. My mom flew out the next day to be with him and we all waited for word from her.
To make a very long story short, my dad survived. My dad, who just turned 60 and is beginning to resemble a cat with 9 lives, is still with us on this earth.
The last 72 hours since he arrived home back in Nebraska have been a flurry of phone calls between siblings, parents and spouses. Will Thanksgiving still happen? Will we still be able to get together? Is it too soon?
Yes it is.
I think of the Pilgrims on the first Thanksgiving. Half of their numbers were gone. HALF. Mothers. Fathers. Sisters. Brothers. Cousins. Gone. Permanently. Many precious lives were missing from the tables. How many mothers quietly wept while preparing the feast? How many fathers mourned the loss of a child or wife? How many children were there with only one parent to care for them? We see the beautiful paintings of food overflowing the table, but was there a quiet heartache below the surface as well?
Thanksgiving is more than just getting together and "legally" gorging on some of the most fattening food we can cook in one meal. It is way more than the parade I was delighted with as a child. It's more than the ever-idolized football games the men watch while the women chatter away cleaning in the kitchen.
The Pilgrims gave thanks for those who survived a long winter and were able to plant and harvest enough food to make it through another one. They were thankful for the Indians whom God had sent to show them how to LIVE in a strange and hostile land.
The were thankful for LIFE.
I've ran the gauntlet of emotions in the last two weeks. Tears of memory for my sister's baby. Worry for my dad. Laughing at the funny things from my children. Relief that my dad will not only live but he will also recover. Love for my dear husband who is walking through it all with me.
Thanksgiving this year does not mean for me that I'm sitting down with my family and all our craziness. It does mean not being able to listen to the cousins playing their games and discovering new things of their own. It does mean not laughing in the kitchen with my sister, mother or sister-in-laws.
But, BUT It does mean that we will whip out the computer and phone as we have done for the last 9 years and call those who are long distance to hear their voices and laugh together via satellite and wire.
Thanksgiving this year means being thankful for the ultimate gift: LIFE. It is being thankful that my dad is alive and with us still. That we're not attending a funeral again so soon after the last one. That we have Christmas to look forward to and that even though we're far apart we still have each other.
(and, so that no one says "poor Melinda", we are spending Thanksgiving Day with Luke's family and all the craziness that 17 grandchildren and cousins on THAT side hold.) It will be a day full of fun and love and being together. I will most likely be blogging about the fun we will have with all of that side. I was just excited to also get to spend it with mine. And, I am truly Thankful this year and in a deeper way I think than ever before.


Larissa said...

Melinda - I'm so sorry that you missed your family Thanksgiving!! It is so hard to remember our childhood Thanksgivings and Christmases together and not be able to experience the same as adults. I'm waiting for the day all my family is together again - for any holiday or bit of time!! I haven't seen Eric in 3 1/2 years, and haven't celebrated a holiday with him in 5 years. I'm looking forward to my first Christmas with children! And hoping there's many more with these kids. Just remember in your disappointments that NOBODY's life is perfect - God gives us these experiences so we can have more compassion for others. Love you, cousin!

Soaring High said...

We had such wonderful memories! I bet you miss Eric. I had really hard time only seeing Nathan and Sandy, Anna and Gracie every 3-4 years. It gets more difficult when kids come along because they ask constantly why they can't see them too. You are right about the experiences and compassion. My heart has a better understanding of what others go through due to some of the difficult experiences we've been through. I love you cousin! You are impacting lives in ways that many of us can't.