The First Thanksgiving

My father died on November 13th and the service at Trinity was on the 19th. My mother and I went to Gloucester for Thanksgiving. It was 1984 and my mother was 51 years old. I don’t honestly remember thinking much about her or her age. I don’t honestly remember thinking about much.

I remember walking down to the ocean. It was cold and gray as November is in the Northeast. But now, I wonder more and more what it was like for my mother. She had been married twenty-two years. My father was trying to sell the company he had started. He went away on a business trip, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, and so on like he always did and he didn’t come back.

It must have seemed excessively cruel to my mother, Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday really, more so than Christmas. But my mother didn’t fall apart, and now that I think about it, maybe it would have been better if she had. I think I learned the powerful lesson of carrying on, carrying on through immense pain and suffering from my mother in late 1984. I didn’t see my mother cry. I didn’t hear her complain. She carried on. As I think she expected herself to do.

In my life, I have seen that sometimes, carrying on is good and a fine thing. It’s a trait to be admired if you are playing a game. But life is harder than that. Carrying on through deep and deeper pain only means that pain goes someplace deeper into your bones. It goes somewhere to hide inside you and eat you gently, deeply from the inside. Real pain needs to surface and come out. Someday, someway.

I wonder if right now, this year, this time I wonder if this is when it is all coming back out. The pain from my father, the pain of my mother, the pain of 2003 and 2004, all the lessons unlearned. Maybe they have to come out somehow, somewhere, sometime.

The time just might be now.

It’s hard to feel secure on one’s own legs. It’s hard to see clearly when you have become so used to the world being so murky. Maybe I am looking for clarity in an unclear world.

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