As I prepared for this Thanksgiving by cleaning my house and buying a freezer for half a beef coming soon. I was struck by the contrast a couple of years make. The first Thanksgiving without Jerry was just plain weird. Jerry loved food. He told me that his one requirement for a wife was that she could cook. He tested those skills on our second date and I obviously passed as I went on to cook meals for the next 26 years.

The first Thanksgiving on this new journey was different because I made it that way. I’ve been in control of this grief process the entire time. The first year I did everything different to make it hurt less. So Lex and I had prime rib instead of turkey. Lex made sure I was doing OK and then took off with his friends. Stetzon was at a girlfriends house in the process of getting his heart broken. Like I said, it was weird.

The second one wasn’t much better though I don’t have great memories of it. Last year I cooked a turkey breast in my crock pot. This year I’m not cooking at all. Seems like things have degraded in the cooking department. But…

This year I look around at all the change in my life and I’m full of gratitude. Gratitude that my Stetzon and Lex both felt comfortable enough to embark on their own lives knowing that I was fully capable of living mine. The life that was shattered in 2016 has grown into a beautiful mosaic.

I have a new life. I am grateful as I look around on this snowy evening that I still have my house. It’s not the same home I shared with Jerry. The walls may be the same but the feelings and the people within it have changed. Someone once told me they loved coming to my home because it always felt welcoming. It’s starting to feel that way again.

I am grateful to the people who love me. My friends, my parents, my sons, and my Adam. They have loved me back to life. Living is very different and I find it easier to fall into old behaviors sometimes because the new is kind of scary. But I wouldn’t want my old life back. I miss Jerry, I’ve missed him more in the last few months than I have in 3 and a half years. The Jerry I miss wasn’t the one I lost. I miss the disease free Jerry. The awesome dad Jerry. So that makes things hard sometimes.

My gratitude to the people who have helped me with my son is something I have difficulty expressing. The police officers, therapists, teachers, surrogate grandparents, church leaders, neighbors, all y’all. I see you and I’m forever indebted to you for your kindness and generosity. Know that I have always paid the things I received forward, and I am doing the best I can to pay it forward now.

I am thankful for my job and my co-workers especially my boss. God had a hand in me finding this place for my skill set. Some days are really hard but the people I am surrounded by make even the hardest days worth it. We change people’s lives because we treat them like people. I am forever thankful to Margaret McDerrmott for teaching me that I was in the people business and I had better learn the business I was in.

I am a descendant of great people. This year I became a grandmother. I hope in 50 years my granddaughter understands the diverse and amazing group of people she represents. I am forever indebted to the time they spent with me. I was one of the lucky ones who got time and not things. I use the skills my great grandmother taught me in the kitchen. I can clean anything just like my grandmother. I can process numbers just like the other grandmother. I taught my boys fishing techniques I learned from my grandfather. I can punch you in the nose with the talents my other grandfather taught me when I was 5. I am so grateful to be in their line and hope I honor them sufficiently.

As I journey into this year’s holiday season I am thankful for the amazing man who dropped into my life right when I needed him. He is truly a gift and one that I cherish. He has taught me that I am more capable than I think, stronger than I know, and I am lovable. He has made my life better in so many ways.

Enjoy your turkey and black friday shopping but more importantly enjoy your family whether it is the one you were born into or the one you created with friendship. Life is short. Tell them you love them and let old hurts go away.

I am grateful to you readers who support my writing.

God Bless You! Happy Thanksgiving!

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