A lot of people--kind and loving people--have assured me that they know how hard Thanksgiving will be for me, that this is a hard time. And it is true that Michael loved this holiday (it centers on food, is that a surprise to anyone who knew him?). But I am okay, if rueful about missing the "traditional" chorizo and cornbread stuffing, because this year more than before the day will actually be about gratitude for me.
"Ce moment est une moment de bonheur," Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us. This moment is a moment of joy. Sometimes that is hard to remember. We had so many years of cross country moves, career troubles, financial woes, health crises, and finally terminal cancer. And while there were also dear friends and bike rides and snowy days, during too many of those years I was the Rock, the planner, the one who held it all together, the one who balanced the books and fought the doctors. It was easy to forget the moments of joy. The good times were too often somehow just out of reach. And in the end, I was left standing on my own.
Now, occasionally, I see the path to happiness. It is badly untended and overgrown. I can lose sight of it and become easily lost and fearful. I can lose faith that it is even there; for so long it seemed almost mythic and my reserves to cope with even small calamities are so low. It isn't Thanksgiving that knocks me off the rails, it's the leaking basement or the expired car tabs.
But I am Thankful. My house may be shabby at the corners, but it is warm and cozy and protects me from the winds blowing outside. It may be empty, but dozens of dear, kind, and loving people are no more than a text or phone call away. My body is strong enough to hike and run and bike and go to yoga. My mind is sharp enough to enjoy films and novels and beautiful photos (even if my eyesight makes some of those things occasionally challenging). I have the means to pursue my dreams, be they ones on a motorcycle or at the end of a road trip. I'll find the path, even if I have to trample down the weeds with my own bare feet.
This moment is a moment of joy, and this holiday will be less about stuffing than about being grateful for having more moments in which to find that joy. Though, to be clear, I intend to find some happiness in stuffing, too.