These are the things I am most grateful for this year. Tomorrow will be my first Thanksgiving without Tony, and yet I find I have so much to be grateful for.
Our first Thanksgiving, we were renting a room in a house with two other people we barely knew. We arrived in San Diego in early November. Both of our housemates were leaving for the day, so we had the kitchen to ourselves. I remember that our one housemate, Wendy, was really sick and while we were cooking dinner she was hanging around waiting for her ride and coughing and sneezing. Tony never did all that well around people who were sick since he hated being sick himself (unlike most of us, ha ha), and he was pretty upset that she wasn’t – I don’t know – hiding out in her room or at least keeping a bigger distance between her germs and our dinner.
I love Thanksgiving. That first year with Tony was difficult, not because we didn’t have a nice day, in the end; but because I think it’s always a challenge to change holiday traditions. He was used to having stuffing that included sausage but very few vegetables and no fruit. I was used to having my mother’s stuffing, with celery, apples, cranberries, mushrooms, onions, etc. I agreed to try the sausage if he would agree to let me include other things too; and it ended up being delicious. I wouldn’t have expected it, but I really liked it.
In many ways, that story is almost a metaphor for this year. It’s not that I’ve liked it. In many ways I’ve hated it. I have pushed my way kicking and screaming through a grieving process that was – and still is – so much harder than I could ever have imagined. I have changed and adapted the traditions of my life because I have had no choice. I have not written or looked at a screenplay since Tony died. But I did, yesterday, become a NaNoWriMo winner and am well on my way to having written my first novel. As painful and horrible as this year has been, writing this novel has been a gift. An awakening, not just of my creativity but of my mind and body and spirit. I have reconnected with my immediate family in ways that I could not have anticipated. My closest friends have become even closer. I have made new friends. I have found my voice, and my passion, in advocating for suicide prevention and mental health awareness through this blog, my novel in progress, and the jewelry I am making and selling.
There’s a reason I am calling my jewelry company Metamorphosis Jewelry. This year has been a long, slow, painful change for me. At the beginning of the year I cocooned, wrapping my friends and family around me like a blanket. Staying hidden and wondering how my life became so very dark and small. The cocoon changed me. I think I’m out of the cocoon now, still a little unsure of myself. Still wondering what the future holds for me. Still missing my husband, and wishing he had been able to see through his own darkness.
I am sad. I am happy. I am determined. I am so, so very grateful for my wings.