I am grateful for what I am and have.
My Thanksgiving is perpetual.
Henry David Thoreau
As we embrace Thanksgiving upon us, it is important to remember to just breathe and know that love lasts forever. It can be such a difficult day, and at the same time so wonderfully beautiful because of the legacy love has left us.
This year, John and I are hosting our first Thanksgiving together since our new marriage with our children, our grandchildren in "our" new home and celebrating our new life together. I do realize that for many of you can't even imagine that your life can be different. However, it is true to some extent that we are the result of our choices. We have a unique opportunity to recreate ourselves in widowhood and become all we want to be. I’m living in this bold, bright beautiful new life because I chose to say “YES” to a series of difficult, mindful and absolutely life-changing choices.
My first Thanksgiving after Kevin passed away, I was invited to go to Cleveland with my daughter’s in-laws. It was sooo good to do something different. I still remember waiting in line at the airport, alone, surrounded by so many others, and thinking how different it was to be there and not at home for Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful adventure. I had an amazing time visiting new places and seeing things I had never experienced for the first time. I loved it. When we had our “new normal” for Christmas that year, I could barely breathe. Each holiday will bring its own challenges and successes. We have to stand tall and do what “feels” good for us, even if it’s at the risk of moving forward in a new way. It can’t be the same again, because it isn’t. As the years' pass, our emotions go through transformation. Some moments so difficult and painful; other minutes breaming with tears of joyfulness, fondly remembering our loved ones and the legacy they left us.
I have really been trying to stay focused on gratefulness. It is important to remember what we do have to be grateful for. Sometimes we try to limit our love because we don't want to be hurt again but we can't spend too much of our life boxed into the grief - we must step out and live again.
Thanksgiving has always been a special time in our family - my parents moved into our family home over thanksgiving, Kevin and I got engaged on Thanksgiving Day in 1978 and we moved into our family home over thanksgiving. John and JoAnn hosted their first family meal in "our" "new" home, their home. But I must say it feels "good" to do something new and different and not be worried about letting go of some of the traditional things. We have hosted Thanksgiving at our Lakehouse for probably the last 20 years... so this is very different, but with two new grandbabies, a new marriage, new family, etc. it's nice to experience something different. I'm looking forward to it.
No matter what you do to get through today, do something for you. You must find a way to make this new life work for you. You can surround yourself with family and friends, and you can spend quiet time in reflection and renewal, but as my daughter’s sister in law says... "You do YOU!" You must! No one else can. Don't let someone else make the choices for YOUR new life.
It is Thanksgiving today. It is a beautiful day no matter where you are. One of our leaders is in Las Vegas with dear friends --for the first time she is doing a very different Thanksgiving. I’m proud of her. Another leader is in Chicago with her children, dining at a fabulous restaurant that has been on her bucket list forever, way before she lost her husband... she made it happen! Do something for you. Take a walk. Invite another widow for coffee and conversation. Write a long-overdue letter to someone you love someone that needs you to be you so they can heal, and move forward. do something that brings you joy.
As we sit on the verge of all the holidays, steaming towards us at a thousand miles an hour pace, please set aside time to find some inner peace. to take that second breath, to have another cup of coffee. Treat yourself to an inspirational read. Replay and sing that favorite song of yours a second time. Take a long, hot bath with candles and some cheer! Do what it takes to get through the day without breaking your heart.
Please don't misunderstand me. The tears may come, and that's ok. The seat at the head of the table is empty. The candle of lifelong love for your soulmate never goes out. Your love will never be replaced. Let your heart be open – to grieve and to grow - replace your fear with faith - enjoy the love that surrounds you and have a second dose to carry home with you.
Maria Shriver, one of my favorite author's shares, “We all need others to help us with our work and our ideas. We all need others who can help us see ourselves, love ourselves, and find our way forward. We are all dependent, independent, and interdependent at the same time. None of us are an island, and yet way too many of us feel like we are alone. So, this holiday season, may we each try—in ways big and small—to step out of our comfort zone. May we notice someone who is struggling and offer them a hand. May we buy someone a coffee. May we thank someone for a gesture (even if it happened long ago)."
On Thanksgiving, over 40 years ago, Kevin asked me to marry him and to be the father of our children… I said "YES!!!" to my soulmate, my best friend, my husband, and the father of our three amazing children. What a wonderful adventure we had together!
Today, my heart is brimming with love, gratitude, and thankfulness for all the wonderful new gifts of love and new life, both in marriage and in the birth of new babies and in the promise of upcoming marriages – Blessings and grace surround all of us in every moment of every day! Remarried now to a widower that truly "Loves me just as I am for the new woman I have become" we are just beginning our brand-new life together, full of love, and laughter and hope. It's a life I had imagined, only in my dreams. It's important that we take time to stop and recognize all the blessings we find along the way to say "Thanks!" I'm grateful for my faith, all my family- old and new, all my friends, and all my new friends-- friends I would never have met if I had not been on this journey…
“To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one's self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one's self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another--and to one's inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon's own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child's scars
Or an adult's deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are--and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.”
― James Kavanaugh
Happy Thanksgiving to each one of you! I love you all always! Enjoy every second!