My life had gotten so busy that Thanksgiving kind of sneaked up on me. And the week before it I realized this was the first of the firsts. The first big holiday without Grandpa. And I started to panic. The last 5 years or so we have been spending Thanksgiving with my grandparents. Prior to that we always spent it with my dad's side of the family and a lot of the time, my grandparents would come join us.
I'm CONSTANTLY looking into the past. I discovered that AOL doesn't delete any e-mail, so rather than working one day, I started going through old e-mails from my Grandpa.
It's weird how just the mundane things that you don't even realize are traditions become the things that you really miss and wish you could do again.
The Friday before Thanksgiving I came down with the stomach flu and called in sick to work for the 2nd time in my life. I actually was still going to try to go to work until I vomited my brains out (TMI? sorry) and then collapsed in my bathroom. 3 days in bed gave me lots of time to catch up on sleep, but once I was feeling better and it was just days before Thanksgiving I really started to worry. I wasn't sure how I was going to react to the first Thanksgiving without Grandpa. It was one of his favorites. He loved to eat, I loved to make food for him, we loved to spend time together and then spend time lounging in the TV room. This year it wouldn't be at his house so I guess that was different. I also learned that my cousin, his wife and 3 sons would be there as well. And I started to worry about what if I couldn't keep my emotions in check. What if I started crying in front of everyone? What if I just couldn't handle it?
I HATE to cry. Even more, I HATE to cry in front of other people. Very few people have seen me cry. In fact, my counselor has only seen it once and it was at the very end of a session, right before I made a quick escape. I don't know why I'm like this. I just am. And it's funny because I was so paranoid about crying in front of my family. I say funny because as a young child I had the reputation of ALWAYS crying at family functions. Being the youngest and only girl, I was always getting left out and therefore crying. Maybe that's why I have this aversion to crying in front of family. At any rate, I was nervous. I voiced these concerns to my counselor and we talked about "worst case scenario" vs "best case scenario" and decided that even if I was a hot mess (worst case scenario) my family would probably understand, I could excuse myself to another room, etc.
Thanksgiving Eve came and I started to get pretty sad. I was feeling better by then and I think everything was starting to set in. Thursday morning, I got up and got ready but it seemed like everything was going in slow motion. I drove down to Aurora to pick up my dad and was quiet the whole way there (usually I sing in my car like it's my own personal stage) and the car ride to my aunt's house was silent. We got to my aunt's house and I was quiet and awkward. It's hard to explain. I guess I just didn't know what to say to people. Maybe I thought that there was a stigma attached to me, since I've been so open about my depression and struggles.
Right before dinner, there was a conversation about who would do the prayer. With my grandpa being the resident Reverend, he always offered the prayer. None of the kids wanted to do it, my mom tried to get me to do it (calling me Rev Jess) but I didn't want to, having just done that Veteran's Day thing so we had her do it. We circled up and my mom led us in prayer and talked about how Grandpa was in the circle with us.
Before we ate, my aunt had us perform a ritual. She brought out mini muffin cups that were each filled with stuffing. She said how Grandpa's favorite part of the meal was stuffing and so we were all having "stuffing shots" as our first bite in memory of him. (If I had known we were doing that, I would have taken pictures of them. Sorry friends haha) This made me happy... and made me smile because stuffing is MY favorite part too!
Dinner went fine. I had a good time with my family and then after dinner we watched football and laughed a little bit.
I survived. I didn't cry, but the whole day did seem to go in slow motion. And I just didn't really know how to act. I didn't know what to say. But I didn't cry.
I imagine Christmas will be similar. I imagine the next year is going to be similar. I only hope it gets better.
As Christmas approaches, people keep asking me what I want for Christmas. And I can't think of anything because there is only one thing I want and I can't have it. (Bargaining phase of grief) So if you have any suggestions of what I should put on my list or how to deal with that, they would be greatly appreciated.
December is an INSANE month for me (I'm working 95 hours this WEEK) and I know it's going to be a struggle to maintain balance... Finding time to take care of me while still getting all my shopping and work finished. And finding time to reach out and be social. I'll just have to prioritize and keep on top of everything.
To better days