A few days before Thanksgiving last year, my phone rang. It was Mom. In a scared voice, she told me she'd just fallen down in her apartment and was too weak to move. She called the paramedics, I got in my car.
Death, for her, became a nice option to consider.
Life, for me, became a blur.
It was all wrong.
I found ways to be grateful.
But Thanksgiving was bad.
And after was worse.
With small moments of OK in between.
A few days before Thanksgiving this year. this arrived in the mail.
It was addressed to Mom. In the last few years, she'd taken to doing much of her Christmas shopping from this catalog. Petit Fours for Auntie Agnes. Chocolate turtles for Chris. Cashews for Clarence. All ordered sometime in October, because she was worried about the mail taking a while during the the holidays. My box of toffee arrived just days after she went into hospice, cheerfully wrapped with a tasteful note:
The irony was so bitter it hurt, just like everything else.
Weeks later, she wrote the check in a shaky hand:
Pay to the order of Swiss Colony - $28.11
She crossed it off her list of "December bills" with satisfaction.
I remember getting really irritated by that check.
I remember saying that nobody wanted chocolates from her. That we wanted her to get well instead.
She ignored me.
I mailed the envelope.
When the catalog came, I went to the fridge in the garage, and looked at the box of toffee still sitting there on the shelf.
I left the box where it was. I kept the catalog, too.
Thanksgiving will never be what it was before.
But in the midst of the emotional chaos this day now generates, I have a new and profound connection to idea of giving thanks.
Things I hold dear are perishable.
I'm beyond fortunate to have them in my life.
And I'll be holding onto them for as long as I can.