I am having a really difficult time dealing with Thanksgiving approaching. Halloween was tough, as I had imagined for months the costumes she'd be old enough to wear when that holiday rolled around, but it was nothing like what I am experiencing now. As Thursday creeps closer, I want nothing more than to hide away. I want to pull the covers over my head, snuggle in, and stay safe from the cold, harsh world.
Maybe it's because I keep thinking about how on Thursday, I should be snapping my daughter into her highchair at my parents' house with an extra large bib secure around her chest. How it would be her first time tasting stuffing and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. How I should be watching her slap her food around with glee, smearing her cheeks with a thankful feast.
Maybe it's because I know that Thanksgiving is the doorway to the holiday season. The threshold to a festive time that doesn't seem festive anymore at all. It's just the beginning. Commercials of families smiling and laughing around Christmas trees. Advertisements for toys. Bright and cheery songs, twinkling lights, joyful laughter. Despite the rainbow in my belly, I don't feel joyful. I don't feel thankful. I feel cheated. And not, "hey you rolled the dice twice when you were supposed to roll it once" cheated - but "hey, you stole everything near and dear to me, including the clothes off my back while you beat me with a stick" cheated.
What I have already begun to hear from people are sentiments like "Be thankful that you still have your family and friends." "You and Mike are healthy." "Be happy you are pregnant again." While I understand that those are attempts to help me feel more secure in my life, they don't help me at all. They are all true - and they are all good things - but they don't bring her back. They don't fill the void she left behind. I will never see Kenley eat pumpkin pie. I will never see her unwrap Christmas presents. Instead of ringing in the new year as a newly made family, Mike and I will count down to midnight without her. This year and every year.
It's the "every year" that really gets me. The fact that this is just the beginning. This is the first holiday season of the rest of my life where she will not be here. That's a hard reality to come to grips with.
So, this Thanksgiving, I am not really going to bother to struggle to find things to be thankful for. I have had 9 months to realize the wonderful people in my life. Loss is the one thing that really makes you stop and reevaluate your life and your relationships. I don't need the last Thursday in November to remind me to do that. I do that every day. No, this Thanksgiving, I will do what I have done on all the hard days before this one. I will wake up. I will get dressed. And I will get through it. I will get through Thursday and every day left of this miserable year with as much dignity and grace as I can muster.
And if, sometimes, I have to pull the covers over my head, so be it.