Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I wonder if the pleasure of Thanksgiving died with my mother? I was flipping through a magazine yesterday. It was full of Thanksgiving recipes and photos of holiday dishes. As I looked them over, I felt nothing. No joy. No anticipation. My mouth didn’t water. I didn’t want any of it.

This will be my third Thanksgiving without my mom. The first time around, my family was at a beach house in Virginia Beach. We scattered her ashes and ate and fought and cried.

Last year, I stayed home, angry at my dad for having remarried before I was ready for him to remarry. Instead, we had people over for dinner. We had a bonfire in the backyard. Everyone ate too much and drank too much, and we were satisfied. But earlier, as I dusted glass bottles lining my fireplace mantle, I had cried. Sobbed. I had called my sister to say how I missed my mom. How I wished it didn't hurt so much to remember her.

Looking at food in the magazine yesterday, I wondered what else I could do on Thanksgiving besides gather with my family, eat off of plates I have loved since childhood, argue over how to cook the gravy? What else is there to do?

I realize it now. Thanksgiving is always going to be an aching. It will always represent an absence. A void I never want to acknowledge.

Sometimes I still talk about my mother like she is here, alive. It is always a slip of the tongue, natural and real as the weather, the color of my eyes. Something like, “My parents.” Then I self correct, “My dad lives in Raleigh.” I don’t have the gumption, the self-honesty, to acknowledge or explain the correction.

Right now, I don’t want Thanksgiving. I don’t want voids and absence when I am supposed to be full.

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