My in-laws left this morning, after a ten-day visit. They are wonderful people, and I really enjoyed hosting them. Besides, my mother-in-law empties the dishwasher every morning, cleans up the kitchen every evening while I'm putting B to bed, and generally makes my life easier while they're here. They drove out from Phoenix, and she brought a rice dish for Thanksgiving. What could be better?
My father and his wife, along with one of her sons and his family, joined us for the Big Day. We had a Sunset Magazine Thanksgiving -- all but two items (including my mother-in-law's rice dish) came from this year's November issue. Brined turkey with sage butter, sweet potatoes and apples, green beans, cranberry sauce with pomegranate seeds -- all was delicious! And I followed the suggestion of a friend and hired a party helper, someone to come in and clean up the kitchen while we were dining and desserting. Oh, what a great thing that was!
Really, everything went very smoothly, and I have nothing significant to complain about. Except I am exhausted. I was a basket case at work today, barely able to function at the lowest level of capability. It was a long ten days of having other adults in my house, morning, noon and night. I realize how much I've come to appreciate the quiet of the evening, after B (and D when he's staying with me) is in bed, to relax and decompress. To be myself, not having to entertain or put on a happy face. Even with family, I appear to believe that being a good host requires being "on", regardless of whether I felt like crying because T wasn't here to enjoy the day, or escaping into a book to avoid the pain, or reading the paper with breakfast because that what I do every morning.
There is much to be thankful for in my life. Even in the terrible early days and weeks after losing T, I recognized that things could be much worse. T didn't suffer; his son wasn't staying with us the night T died; T wasn't driving a car when it happened; we were at a good place in our relationship with no real unfinished business. But on this Thanksgiving, like all major holidays so far, T's absence is just still to big and raw. There is no room on this day for heartfelt thanks, for counting my blessings and feeling grateful. There is only deep, deep sadness and loss. On other, less emotionally-loaded days, I can and do genuinely give thanks. I feel hope for the future, and even look forward with interest and excitement. Just not right now.