Holidays are tough. I forever think of our daughter who will never be at our table. Never be underfoot in the kitchen as I make the holiday meal. Never be arguing with me over how often to baste the turkey or question why I make stuffing from a box. (Because Stove Top is amazing. Just saying.) As I feed her baby brother pureed foods, I wonder what morsels she would favor this year. Would she like sweet potatoes as much as I do? Would she like mashed potatoes with or without gravy? Would she sit and chew forever on a single piece of turkey like her big sister does? Every holiday, and this Thanksgiving is no exception, I find myself thinking of her incessantly. Oh, Harlynn, how I wish you were here with us.
In that despair of not having her here, I'm able to still find myself in the spirit of Thanksgiving. I'm still grateful for all we have, all we've learned, and all we've gained.
I drove to the cemetery the other day to spend some time sharing with Harlynn. I often take the long way home so I can visit with her about whatever comes to mind. I brushed the snow off her headstone and looked around. I saw a gorgeous, big, buck muley. He was quite handsome, and he was a sight to behold. A nice six pointer, he stared my direction and our eyes met. I saw his breath slowly rising up from his nostrils as he measured my potential threat level. I stood still, holding my breath in my throat, wondering if he was the least bit impressed with my stature, as I was with his. Soon enough, he grew tired of our stand-off, and continued on his way. Did you see that, Harlynn?! Eventually, I loaded myself back into the car and drove around to the gate, where I was greeted by a flock of tom turkeys. They patrolled the grounds searching for morsels and purpose. They strutted confidently by as I slowly drove past. I'm thankful when I go to the place that represents the worst time of my life, there is still beauty. There is still a majestic peace. There is still always something to appreciate.
Last year, I made an executive decision regarding our holidays. I decided we would spend them without company. Thanksgiving, Christmas - we were by ourselves in our little home. And I loved it. I needed it. This year, I'm opening myself up again. We're going to be with others. I'm tentative, I'm hesitant, and I'm unsure. But I'm also ready. We'll be with people who love us, and if I get choked up or despondent, they'll understand. If I have to check out for a bit, they won't hold it against me. I'm thankful for their understanding.
And in those moments where I miss my baby girl, I have moments still that pull my heart in the other direction. Moments that fill me even as I am reminded of what I ache for. Being able to spend every morning at home with my littles has given me experiences I will cherish forever. I've been so sick so much recently - the latest bout having me on the sofa with the flu. My home is in shambles all around me because I was too weak to get up, let alone clean or put anything away. Little Miss wanted to entertain herself with music. The Lion King soundtrack, to be exact. I sat, perched in my sofa spot, and witnessed the following. I cannot tell you the joy it brought to me. Sick as I was, my heart swelled as I watched her full of life, completely embracing her moment.
Our holiday table, and every meal we have, will forever have one person missing. But I'm thankful she is not forgotten. I'm thankful she has two siblings here who give me more joy than I'm worthy of receiving. I'm thankful I got to hold her precious body in my arms for those fleeting moments after her birth. I'm thankful I'm Harlynn's mom. I'm thankful we get to be the family to love her forever.