Yesterday marked my first Thanksgiving away from home. I had anticipated that it would be a difficult day, but I have to say, I definitely underestimated the intensity of the emotions that surfaced as the day went on. Before the end of the evening, I found myself lost in a nearly inconsolable state of sadness. The loss I felt was tangible, so strong that I could feel it in the cold, foreign air that surrounded me; so strong that it crushed my lungs under its weight as I breathed it all in. I was surrounded by it, with nowhere to run, so I did the only thing I could do- I let myself feel it.
While immersed in my sorrow, the thought that took over my mind was simple: “I miss my family.” Now, when I say “family,” I don’t mean it in the conventional sense. I was of course desperately missing all of my relatives, but my family extends far beyond blood. As we go through life, we form bonds with others; bonds that- at times- end up being influenced and damaged due to the changing of circumstances. Our culture and societal norms dictate that when these bonds are damaged, they should be broken for good, left behind to fade into memories that maybe one day won’t hurt to think about anymore.
Well, I’m nothing if not stubborn, so I am fighting that expectation tooth and nail. I am holding on to and cherishing those bonds in whatever form they have taken now. Perhaps letting go is better for peace of mind, but to me it feels like a pointless and futile exercise. I will not surrender to circumstance, nor will I relinquish the love and adoration I have developed for all of the phenomenal individuals who have come into my life at one time or another. Society can dictate whatever it chooses, but I am here to defiantly ignore it.
I will admit that holding on to these feelings is painful, and at times, excruciating. Yesterday was one of those times. If it weren’t for the wise words of my loving other half, I would still be wallowing in grief; he told me that instead of focusing on the feelings of loss and emptiness, I should focus on the happiness that still lives in the memories I have and the bonds that have persisted. In the moment, all I could think about was how it is absolutely impossible to feel the happiness without also feeling the loss. While this may be true, I have meditated on his advice, and I’ve come to a conclusion; it is not about only feeling the happiness- both emotions have their place and purpose- but rather about empowering the happiness. I had given over the power to sadness wholly and completely until it took over my being. That was a choice. Perhaps even a necessary one. Now, however, I will choose to empower happiness, and the best way to do that (in my experience) is to throw myself into a state of overwhelming gratitude. And I want to share my gratitude with the world.
I am thankful for the family who raised me.
For the mother who has always put her children before anything and everything.
For the father who instilled in me the values that guide my actions.
For the parents who have loved and supported me beyond blood.
For the siblings who grew with me (or despite me).
For the cousins who have provided me with laughter beyond measure.
For the grandparents who have done far more for me than I could ever hope to repay, but of course never expect anything in return.
For the aunts and uncles who never forget my birthdays.
And, of course,
For all of my sweet pups who bring me limitless joy and resiliency.
I am thankful for the family who chose me.
For the parents who embraced me, accepted me and loved me like their own.
For the mother who laughed with me, cried with me, counseled me, and cared for me far beyond the call of duty.
For the siblings and cousins who provided me with a friendship that I can never forget or replace.
For the aunts and uncles who have never cared about blood, who have taken me in, who have provided for me and guided me.
For the friends who have stayed with me despite distance, time, and hardship, who have gone above and beyond to support me and keep me going.
For the friends who have drifted away, but whom I will always love and cherish for the joy they brought to my life.
For the ones whom I have loved and will always love, the ones who have shared their families with me, the ones who have shared their lives with me, the ones who have shared their souls with me.
And, of course,
For the one who has chosen me above all else, the one who loves me in all of my entirety, the one who has filled my existence with wonder and meaning.
For all of you I am eternally and endlessly grateful. Without you, I would not be me. Please accept my sincerest gratitude for all you have done and continue to do for me. Your importance in my life is beyond description. It is not enough to simply say that I miss you, but you all know that I do.
I sincerely and humbly thank you for reading my words today. I wish you all the most amazing holiday weekend filled with joy and gratitude. Until next time, my friends. Or should I say, my family.