Being an overachiever and well steeled, I thought I could make it through the usual pitfalls—holidays, change of seasons, and Toy Story 3—without crazy tears. I did not. I am a common bereavement statistic. At 2am on the eve of Thanksgiving, hot and messy, I was searching for a friendly voice to be awake. For the first time, Facebook let me down. Friends online? Zero.
But joy and sadness can coexist. I have to admit that my first Thanksgiving without Ron was one of the nicest ever. Is that scandalous? It goes without saying that our first choice would have been to spend the day with Ron, but since that wasn’t in the cards for us, I decided to abort plans to stay home alone with my memories [yes; that was indeed my first plan] and joined good friends and neighbors nearby. It was virtually impossible to feel sad surrounded by such love, generosity, humor, and good cheer. The food was delicious, the settings beautiful. One of the gifts Ron left me, in witnessing all that he suffered, is to cherish goodness when you experience it, and to drink it up for those days when your glass may be less than full. It is an amazing privilege to be alive. Each joy feels that much more exquisite, and this Thanksgiving day was so wonderfully lovely.
I have long thought that my friends were particularly sparkly and kind, but I had no idea how much their gifts would lift and sustain me over my darkest days. You all have made it impossible to feel unlucky.
I am thankful for knowing what love looks like and where my home is. The value of joy and people who can make me laugh. A well-crafted cookie. Warm, familiar faces around town. A visit from an old friend. Or a new friend. People who love well. A community of widows who—having experienced death so closely—feel the importance of living fully. And of course, my family, Mai and Tal, and the man I will always see in them.