Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Thanksgiving Blues

My dad died 23 years ago this past October. He was all about family, and he loved the holiday season so much. From the gathering of the Simpson clan on Thanksgiving to the celebration and gift-giving of Christmas, Dad was in his element. 

We had a volatile relationship when I was young, from about the time I was 12 until I was well into my 20's. Though I am often prone to exaggeration, the word volatile in this case is putting the situation mildly. Dad and I had issues, and that may be fodder for another day's writing, but for today I will just say how grateful I am that we worked a lot of things out before he died.

Even after two decades, the holidays are inextricably tied to Dad. A lot has happened. Things that you think might alter my feelings. I had a baby, I got divorced, I relocated, I remarried, we raised three boys. I am far, far away from the Simpson clan. I have a new life. I love my life. I adore my husband and our boys. I've made incredible friends here. But I am homesick every day for my family and those dear, forever friends I left behind. I would love to pick up my life and move it all to New England. Ah, if wishes were fishes...

Thanksgiving is tomorrow. For the first time in 14 years (since I relocated and remarried), we will not be sharing the day with our good friends, the Summers family. They are on a road trip to pick up their eldest son from basic training, so this deviation from what has become tradition is completely understandable, but I'll miss it. And my son left home about a month ago. This is the first Thanksgiving he will not be with me. Since he was born. 

It just feels like a lot this year. And on top of all that, I keep having this bizarre thought. "I want my dad." Heck, I never even had that thought when he was ALIVE! Seriously! I spent so much time trying to separate myself from him, and then, as an adult, it just wasn't something that ever happened... me wanting my dad. I knew he was there. Right up 'til he died. And in the ensuing decades, I've missed him, but I've never had this persistent ache, this desire to see him, to be with him, to hug him. To let him know that NOW I understand. I understand so much that I didn't back then. I'm a grown woman. I've raised a child and had to be a grown-up about letting him go to follow his own path. I understand now how hard it is to do that. How much it hurts. 

God, it hurts.

I always thought I'd be a joyful empty-nester. And I think that time will come. But not now. Not yet. It's too soon. And it hurts. By February, when my younger stepson is probably departing for the Air Force, I can't even imagine how I'll feel.

I understand now why Dad was the way he was with me when I was a teenager. It was that parental overload of love and fear. It makes a parent do crazy things. Over protection. Attempts at control. Heh. None of it works in the end, and I always knew that, but I couldn't help but try, right?

I am so grateful... SO grateful for all the blessings in my life. My husband, my boys, Mom, my family and friends back east and here, my soulsisters, my friends, my furkids, the roof over my head, a job in times when jobs aren't easy to come by, and the feast I am able to prepare for my family tomorrow. I am grateful for the strength of my spirituality and my unwavering faith, for my creativity, for my appreciation of the simple things in life, like books to read and moonlit skies at which to gaze.

I don't want to follow all that with a but. But...

This year...

I want my Dad.

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