Last night, I was writing a post about having had a particularly bad day while Christmas shopping. It was a post about struggling with grief over the holidays, about the heartache that comes in those moments when you’ve gotten caught up in the holiday spirit and forgotten that something – that someone – is missing and then you suddenly remember and OOF. It was a post – again, again – about my dad. I was struggling to write it. I was wondering, as I always do, why I persist. I was feeling sad.
As I was agonizing over it, I heard a small voice from the other room, singing, in very high, measured tones, hallelujah.
Because, when I'm not looking, he makes our daughter a Christmas suit out of foil wrapping paper and dresses her in it.
And then, suitably attired, they sit down for cocoa with marshmallows and smashed...
When I received the call telling me that my father had died, I cried. I cried loud, I cried hard, I fell to the ground and clutched at my aching chest and I wailed. And then, curled up on the floor, phone in hand, I tweeted.
I tweeted because it was instinct. I tweeted because it was the only thing that I could think of to do. I tweeted because I needed to get the words that were reverberating in my head and smashing against the walls of my mind out out out and into the world so that I could step back and see them/hear them/feel them and know that they weren’t just the narrative of some nightmare conjured up by that corner of my soul that holds and nurtures its darkest fears. I needed to face the words, and know that they were true. I needed to take control of the narration of the terrible story that was unfolding. I needed to speak. I needed to write.
I’m Canadian, so I celebrated Thanksgiving weeks ago, but still, it’s hard to ignore all the cheerful goodwill and gratitude in the air when American Thanksgiving rolls around. Also, the pie. That’s all anyone has been able to talk about this week: PIE, pumpkin or otherwise. And stuffing and turkeys and liquor. Oh, and gratitude.
Gratitude, like appetite, is contagious. So, herewith, an account of my thanks, the things for which I am grateful (not, please note, in order of importance):
This weekend, you turned four years old. You were so excited to turn four years old. For months you asked how many weeks it would be before you turned four, and for weeks you asked that we count down the days until you turned four, and for days you insisted that we tick off the hours until you turned four, and when the day finally came you said “Guess what, Mommy? Today, I am FOUR.”
And I smiled and hugged you and said “yes, yes, I know.”