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Holiday Heartache

It’s Thanksgiving season, the season of reflecting on one’s many blessings, but it seems hard, sometimes, these days to find things to be grateful for. I know that’s just my mindset, which is admittedly pretty bleak lately, and not reality, but it’s hard to shake it. 

I know I am blessed to have a home, but right now, I’m focused on the fact that our roof was damaged and our upstairs windows blew out in the storm, but our insurance company doesn’t think we even came close to meeting our ridiculously high named-storm deductible.

I know that I am blessed to have two healthy kids, but right now, I’m focused on the fact that one is having a few academic challenges and one is a teenager who is trying to find her own identity, and they’re both at new schools this year, and I lie awake every night just staring at the ceiling and wondering if I’m screwing up at being a mom, which is the only thing I ever really wanted to be. 

I know that I am blessed to have a husband who cooks me dinner, makes me laugh, keeps my wine glass full, and hugs me when I cry, but right now, I’m focused on how much of a burden I am with all of my overwhelming grief. 

This is hard, y’all. Yes, there was the hurricane and the never-ending pandemic and everything that everyone else is going through, which is hard enough. But losing my mother so suddenly and unexpectedly rocked me completely to my core; I’m sure that’s obvious based on the fact that it’s been six months and I’ve written about nothing else. I just wasn’t ready for it. Maybe no one is ever ready for it … but I really wasn’t ready for it. She texted me a casual “I love you” at 5:06 p.m. on a Monday and was dead 15 hours later.

And so instead of feeling thankful this year, I’m bitter and angry and jealous inside. It’s an ugly feeling, and I don’t like acknowledging it, but maybe if I get it out on paper, it won’t be inside me quite so much. I fully know it’s irrational, but I can’t seem to stop it. 

I’m jealous of people who still have their moms, even when I know they have complicated relationships with them. I’m jealous of everyone older than 68, which was how old my mom was when she died. I’m angry that the last holiday season we got together was during the pandemic, when we didn’t even get to share a meal together and stood shivering outside, 6 feet apart and masked, on Christmas Day. 

“Next year will be better!” my mom yelled over her shoulder as she left that night, the eternal optimist. 

I, the eternal pessimist, didn’t necessarily think it would be better. But I definitely didn’t think last Christmas would be her last Christmas. 

I’m trying, though. I’m really trying. I’m going to therapy. I’m journaling. I’m exercising and taking my vitamins and trying to practice self-care (even when self-care just means eating too many carbs and lying in bed watching true crime documentaries). 

And maybe, if I can’t be thankful, at least I can be hopeful this year. 

Hopeful that time will ease this pain. Hopeful that my kids and I will come through this rough patch stronger and closer. Hopeful that my husband will get more of the “better” and less of the “worse” out of the “for better, for worse” part of the vows we said 10 years ago. 

Hopeful, in fact, that next year will be better.

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