Thanks, but no thanks

It’s Thanksgiving Day. After the long march, heavy with dread, the holidays have arrived. But it’s okay. I have it figured out. I’m going to work, and then I’m going to drive. Work will keep me busy, body and mind. The long drive will feed my soul. And when we get to where we’re going – no more holiday. It’s done. You will all be stuffed with your turkey, and my kids and I will arrive at our destination hopped up on convenience store junk food.

Ploop. Just like that, holiday is done and we are on the other side of it. Thanksgiving, ta-da, fini.

Exactly a year ago… Life was horrible. Mark got an “all-clear” from a biopsy surgery and we began to plan his recovery, the bariatic oxygen therapy  (which might have ultimately saved his life) to heal radiation damage. And two hours later, as I’m leaving the hospital parking garage, my cell phone rings, there was another biopsy result: “Mrs. Daves, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this….”

then/now/then/now/now/now then/now/thenthenthen/now

Now, where was I? Right. Thanksgiving.

Mark loved to cook. He loved turkey. There were few foods that he loved more than “a big ol’ honkin’ turkey leg.” He never really made that one spectacular turkey that he wanted to make. But he loved to cook for people, and he was a good cook. Those of you who never got to sample the bread he made, or his oven-baked chicken-fried steak, or his “beer-butt chicken,” you missed out. The man had a gift. There were few times in his life that Mark was happier than when something came out right, and people loved it enough to give him raves.

At some point during the holidays, I’m going to attempt to make Mark’s chicken gumbo. The recipe is in his handwriting, and it’s long and complicated. Which is troublesome because even in the best of times, I am a forgetful cook. But, I’m willing to try. It brings Mark to the table with us, in a small way. We’ll eat gumbo – maybe I’ll even attempt his “faux French bread” – and we’ll toast the season, and the man, and the warmth and goodness of friends at the table.

But not now. Not today. Today is strictly a mixed bag.

.

.

.

(The poem below was written exactly a year ago.)

Image

I started my day not
with prayer or
a serenity walk
but by driving to a friend’s house
to weep and pet her dogs.
.
Some days are just like that.
.
The first blessing comes
in the ability to ask
“Can I come over?”
in a voice so much like your own 5-year-old self
you break your own heart.
.
The second blessing comes
in the acceptance,
 “Sure, see when you get here.”
.
The third blessing comes
from venting,
sharing grief, doubt, pain,
fear.
.
The fourth is nestled
under Memaw’s afghan –
the listening heart,
the loving presence.
.
Finally, the gratitude comes,
in the knowing
that you can reach out, can feel,
be part of something holier
than thou
only
because
of
the
pain.
.
.
.
.
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About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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One Response to Thanks, but no thanks

  1. I’m thankful for you, Vicki. You add depth to my understanding. You continue to touch me in a profound way. Thank you. xoxox Robin

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