last thursday was the first thanksgiving not spent with my immediate family.
preparing for the last four or five thanksgivings have been gut-wrenching stressful and i don’t mean the cooking, nor the food shopping in crowds. i don’t mean the organizing of who sits where, nor even counting cards. i don’t mean anything diabetes related at all in fact.
what has made the approaching of the Thanksgiving holiday so terribly feels-like-a-hangover-every-day stressful has been the pull of my two families.
jesse and i have been together for over five years. my family adores jesse, and as far as i can tell, his family adores me. they both want ‘heather and jesse time’ as much as possible. that is why the asking of who i will choose to celebrate thanksgiving with each year starts around february.
until this year, i have stayed home with my mother, father, sister, grandma, aunt laura, cousin chris, aunt verna, and uncle ron. some years my aunt judy and uncle dave attend. but there has always been a core group.
if you have read my blog before, you may have seen posts about my grandma betty’s passing earlier this year.
sometime around october 30th, it hit me that the deciding factor for me staying the last three years was “this may be the last thanksgiving with grandma”.
She had been on a downward trajectory for a long while before she found the light.
realizing that seeing her could no longer sway my decision making process left a heavy weight on my heart. and boy did i carry it.
i was mad.
mad that i didn’t hold her hand and say i was thankful for her last year.
i was sad.
sad that all of her untold stories could no longer bring laughter
i was hurt.
hurt that by the time i got there, she was already gone.
i was angry.
angry that no one was asking me how i was feeling about her being gone for the first holiday since her passing.
but i didn’t tell anyone.
i kept it all in and let it fester like an infected pump site that you know is bad, but one that you don’t want to change because loose even a drop of insulin feels like a worse consequence.
and i didn’t want to feel it. i just wanted it to go away.
maybe that is why i chose to finally join jesse and his family in slc, utah.
i had an amazing time. the trip was everything thanksgiving should be. family, gaming, loving, laughing, hugging, footie pajamas, movies, shopping, pie, turkey, a real sense of togetherness, babies, and more laughing.
a new place has been made in my heart for my unrelated extended family. it is warm and filled with bo bo zo zo (don’t ask) memories.
feeling a new place emerge in there helped me be more okay with leaving the grandma shaped hole in my heart to be as it is.
logically, i know that no one person, nor group of people can fit into it. it is some very odd grandma gabel shaped space in there.
i just might have been hoping that missing her wouldn’t sting so bad if newness was around.
it still did.
i thought about her over and over.
i talked about her.
i wore her necklace.
and i missed her.
i don’t know if it gets much easier.
for my sake, i hope it does because a heavy heart is hard to bare.
for her sake, i hope that she can feel the energy and the love i am pushing her way.
for my family’s sake, i hope you can forgive me for taking what seemed like the easy road out.
i wanted to be with you. thank you for sharing me with kindness instead of guilt. i love you.
for my new unrelated extended family, thank you for opening your arms so graciously. i love you all to saturn and back. i hope to be with you again next year.
because i missed out on announcing what i am grateful for, here it is:
i am thankful for my mom, my dad, sister and near brother in law michel (too soon?). i’m thankful for my dearest jesse and our sweet pug, lancet. i’m thankful for all the family i am so lucky to have been born to, and the family i’ve been melded too post birth.
i’m thankful for my friends. hattie, paige, cait, lindsey, victor, grace, and mike, especially.
i’m thankful for my housemates, anita, lindsay, and kelly.
i’m thankful for the diabetes hands foundation, the people who work there, and the services they provide for people with diabetes.
i’m full of thanks for the air im breathing and all the privilege i’ve had in my life.
i’m thankful for diabetes because it brought me here, to the DOC. meeting all of you has been one of the greatest lucks in all my life. you life me up.
and finally, i’m thankful for my grandma and her stories and love. i’m happy to have a grandma shaped hole in there, filled with good laughs and happy moments.