It took a little while for The Wife and I to remember how we spent last Thanksgiving. Which is, it turns out, a testament to how hard it can be to remember not doing something.
Feeling unapologetically bereft of thankfulness last year, we nevertheless received a kind invitation from an understanding friend to join her family and friends for a little turkey and potatoes and football. We certainly didn’t feel any pressure to join them, which is probably why we were inclined to do so. Yet as the morning turned to afternoon and we faced the many challenges of getting two people plus a baby out the door, we demurred, calling to offer our regrets.
It is strange to remember how un-thankful we were last winter, and for how long. We weren’t bitter or especially angry– just empty and profoundly tired and having a hard time pushing forward into each day, and wishing we didn’t have to. I remember flying to my sister’s graduation in January, and during takeoff– the part of the trip when I always wonder at just how little is holding us up– I momentarily considered how poetic and relieving it would be if all three of us just died all together.
A year later, things are very different. Which is nearly impossible to describe: we’ve not accepted things, exactly, and we’re not moving on, and we’ve not found peace about the loss of our son. The closest description is one I’ve cribbed from Richard Rohr: we’re “forgiving reality for being what it is”. Yet even though words fail, there is a clear sense of a tangible and intangible shift in our orientation toward life: we’ve got hope, and motivation, and energy to go forward. And even a fair bit of joy, for which I’m very thankful.
The most obvious source of joy is our dear daughter, who is so excited about living in and learning about this world that she can barely contain herself. She exclaims at every leaf, every tree, every cat, every car and truck and bus. She hears a single bird, and joins in the note. And dogs? Forget about it! She dutifully reports on barks outside that we’ve long since stopped noticing, and will dance a jig every time she lays eyes on a canine. This morning when I took her next door to let the dogs out, she could barely stay on two feet, such was her shouting and waving and running and talking and laughing.
“Dod-dies! Dod-dies! Dod-dies!!,” and I’m reintroduced to love and hope and joy by a little child, and two disobedient dogs. Thanks be to God.