November 30, 2021
It’s a question I’ve wrestled with this week, related to Thanksgiving festivities. Let me explain.
My brothers, boyfriend, and I decided to spend the holiday with my maternal aunts and friends, each of whom we deeply adore. The problem, however, is that the location of the Thanksgiving meal was the same location my mom shared her last Thanksgiving. Yikes! As a matter of fact, after exiting our extended family’s home on Thanksgiving 2012, my mom walked to the car and said, “Y’all know this is going to be my last Thanksgiving with you, right?”
Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the location for the festivities this year. At the same time, I wanted to share time and space with my family.
Not surprisingly upon our arrival, I felt somewhat nervous. I recalled the memories from my mom’s last Thanksgiving celebration. Tears gently welled up in my eyes, and I allowed them to fall in their perfect timing. The evening progressed. We played games (visit CoinLooting to know more about the latest games available online). We watched the football game and danced in the living room. And then it happened.
My aunt yelled for me, claiming that my boyfriend had taken a hard fall. Of course, I rushed to his side and found him hunched over on the floor. At 6’1, I knew it wouldn’t be a welcomed sight. Racing to help him up, however, he quickly arose unassisted and in one breath with a huge smile on his face asked, “Mekel, will you marry me?” OMG!
Stunned by the performance, I looked on with confusion, after which tears quickly streamed down my face. I gladly accepted his Academy award-winning proposal, LOL. He and I embraced, all the while surrounded by screams of joy, camera flashes, and more tears.
And naturally, thoughts of my parents flooded my heart and mind. I envisioned both crying alongside me, hugging my now-fiancé, and joining in the pure bliss of it all. In the midst of joy, nevertheless, grief also embodied the space.
In that moment, all I could think about was how thrilled and proud my parents would be. My mom, who never met David, had always prayed that a down-to-earth man would capture my heart. On the other hand, my dad, who first met David in 2019, focused on my future husband being hardworking and wholeheartedly devoted. God answered both of their prayers, thankfully.
Sadness invaded the moment, and I welcomed the emotion. I allowed it to rise up within me and be present in the form of tears and thoughtful reflections. I acknowledged the devastation of my parents not being present for one of the most pivotal moments in my life, especially after praying so fervently for that very moment. At the same time, I focused on the peace they would’ve experienced in my acceptance of David’s proposal.
All too often, as we’re faced with milestones, we assume the need to elevate one emotion over another. As grieving hearts, we wrestle with seemingly conflictual thoughts and feelings. Nevertheless, you don’t have to choose joy over sadness. Pain over peace. Or laughter over heartache.
What if we invited both to the table? What would that look like?
The remainder of the Thanksgiving festivities consisted of joyful and sad tears, sharing of stories about loved ones no longer physically present, future hopes and dreams, and wonderment about how they would’ve responded to the joy in the room.
For Thanksgiving 2021, I’ll hold dear dramatic engagement fanfare mixed in with sorrow. Tear-filled memories amidst laughter. And exciting future plans sprinkled on present and past pain.
I encourage you to consider the ways you may be making choices you don’t need to make or negating one emotion in order to ‘manage’ another.
Writing things out always helps me. Perhaps it can help you too.
As always, I’d love to hear from you, friend.
Share your thoughts below.
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i was in the middle of writing my own blog entry about simple joys & grief when i googled “holding hands with grief”, trying to recall a poem, but was lead here instead. grief & joy have never been opposites, have they? they are brother emotions, sitting side by side. we grieve because we experience joy, it’s only natural. i recall an interview where andrew garfield spoke about the loss of his mother saying “i hope this grief stays with me because it’s the unexpressed love that i never got to tell her”, & i hope this thanksgiving is gentler on your heart.
Remy, thank you for your comment. I’ve come to welcome the ebbs and flows of grief, focusing on ways I can consistently be gentle with myself. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I know that whatever that may be, self-compassion will be there.
Wonderful blog. Thank you for sharing your experience and wonderful news…congratulations again my friend. Sending love.
Thanks so much, my friend! I appreciate your reading the blog, as well as sharing well wishes! Hugs to you!
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