Fall is my favorite time of the year. Once the cool weather arrives, I feel re-energized. It has been like this as far back as I can remember. I always looked forward to the cool weather, the changing of the colors of the leaves, the holidays and the celebrations that came with the season. My favorite part of the celebration was the people, the family dinners. Our family get togethers were a lot of fun, and I was so happy to lose myself in all the happy chaos. I never wanted those moments to end.
At this stage of my life, so much has changed. All the grandparents and parents are gone, and of their generation only two aunts and an uncle remain. The bulk of our family unit now is my generation—husband, siblings and first cousins and their kids and grandkids. My cousins all have their own families and traditions. I don’t talk to my brother. His children– my only niece and nephew live 3,000 miles away. So that leaves my immediate family as my husband, my sister and her spouse. Of course, I have many friends whom I consider family and there is that old saying that rings true “Friends are the family we choose”.
So, when people ask, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” I just shrug and reply, “Nothing. Just hanging out at home relaxing”. It’s true that I really don’t know what my plans are because I still don’t know how to make plans without the people who have always been a part of those plans. I’m told I should start my own tradition, but honestly, I don’t want to. Besides, even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy spending time with the family I have here; that’s not at all what it means. It’s just that the loss of tradition and the people who created and nurtured those traditions has hit me particularly hard and it’s been difficult to move on from that. When we lost dad 13 years ago, we still had both our grandmothers, our aunts, great aunt, and mom. It took a lot of time to get used to not having dad around, but we had the support of one another, and we continued to indulge in the family traditions and we kept it all going. And then one by one we lost them. And then with mom’s passing two years ago, it ended. When you have at least one parent left, you still have that link. But when the last one is gone, all that was held together seems to go with it. Mom was the last one. She held it all together. I am not sure my sister and I are strong enough to do it. My sister might be, but I don’t know if I am.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a pity party. I don’t need nor want anyone to feel sorry for me. It isn’t anything like that at all. I know I have much to be thankful for and I am blessed to have so much goodness in my life, especially good people, who surround me every day. It’s easier for me to write about my feelings. I know that there are others out there who will read this and say, “I feel that way too!”. It helps me to know I am not alone, and I hope it helps others to know they are not alone as well.
I miss my family. I miss the gatherings and the dinners. I miss the laughter and the antics. I miss the loud conversation and the stories at the table. I miss the chaos of the cleanup afterward. I miss going outside after dinner to hang around and listen to more stories. I just miss it all.
How do I get through it? How do I find meaning again in those things which once brought me so much joy? I don’t know. I guess I’ll just have to take it day by day. I’ll remind myself how blessed I am to have what I have in this life, especially the people. Because it’s the people who make it all worthwhile. And I’ll give myself the time I need to grieve my losses, adapt to the changes, and find my way again. And when I feel this way, maybe I won’t question it. Maybe I’ll just go with it knowing that these feelings are normal, and it’s okay, and that like everything else, this too shall pass.