Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, again.
We used to go to the beach for Thanksgiving, husband, kids, mom and dad. We’d rent a house and either cook a meal or order one from Food Lion. The last time we went to the beach for Thanksgiving was in 2003, and we took the flu with us. We all had it at one point or another during the week, except for Daddy. He was healthy the whole week, while the rest of us took turns with the fever, chills, headaches, etc. Daddy was looking at real estate magazines, and I think he and Mama might have actually considered selling out and moving to the beach. Since we were all sick, we went out for Thanksgiving dinner, to the buffet at the Lucky Fisherman. We all left the beach a day early because we were sick.
That happened once before, on a trip to the beach for Thanksgiving. We had rented a different house. Mama and Daddy left for the beach before we did, because hubby and I both had to work. When we got to there on Tuesday, Daddy wasn’t feeling very well and he got worse as the week progressed. We cooked Thanksgiving dinner. On Friday morning, I got up to find Mama and Daddy packed and leaving, heading straight for home and the hospital. We thought then that we’d had our last Thanksgiving together. I remember Mama asking me to take a lot of pictures that year, just in case. After they left for the hospital, I felt so lost and confused. We went to a local gift shop and I bought a Christmas present for Daddy, a tide clock for the Cape Fear River inlet, so he’d always know when the tides were at the beach, even when he was home. I think I was gambling that as long as he had the tide clock he wouldn’t leave, and I guess it worked for a couple of years at least.
Daddy died 3 weeks before Thanksgiving in 2004. On the Friday before Thanksgiving my baby boy came home from school and said that someone had found a suicide note in his 4th period desk and he had been questioned about it, but that he hadn’t written it. The following Monday he admitted that he had written it, and my emotions kicked into overdrive. I called my next-door neighbor to ask her about finding a counselor for him and in the process I became completely unglued. My last 2 grandparents had died, both of my in-laws had died, my father had died, and my son had written a suicide note.
And I broke.
My neighbor asked me to let her take me to the emergency room. Husband was two hours away, at a job site. Mom was two hours away, at her home. I didn’t know what to do, and I couldn’t stop crying. So we went to the hospital. I walked in the emergency room door and the first person I saw, the volunteer working the sign-in desk, was a man from our church. A man who has, and continues to remind me of Daddy. I knew I was in the right place. I spent the afternoon in the ER. Bill, the man from church, came and checked on me several times. My friend Lori, the Parish Nurse from our church, came. (Yes, I belong to a Baptist church w/ a Parish Nurse on staff. Interesting, huh?) My neighbor brought me a teddy bear that travels with me whenever I go on trips now. My husband met the kids at home and took care of them, and we all decided that I should probably stay in the psych hospital.
Only there were no beds available.
So my neighbor had to take me to another hospital in a larger city. I was checked in about midnight, went through a modified strip search, had all of my belongings searched for anything I could use to hurt myself, like the string from my sweatpants. I was allowed to keep the teddy bear, some paper and a pen. I spent the next 3 days at that hospital, and was released on Thanksgiving Day. My mom had taken the kids to her house, so husband and I spent the day doing nothing, just trying to understand what had happened and maybe what was going to happen next.
Now it’s 3 years later, and we’re still trying to understand what’s going to happen next. I don’t work any more, and know that I will never be able to work at the technical level I did before all of this happened. There was long term disability income, but only for 24 months so it’s gone now. We’re trying to stay afloat while a lawyer and the Social Security Administration try to decide what to do with me. There are things that have happened during these past 3 years that I have been able to experience only because of being broken. Good things. Other peoples’ lives that have been changed, for the better, because I was broken. Things can never be the way they were, and I wouldn’t want them to be.
Last night we watched the movie “Evan Almighty”. I remember when “Bruce Almighty” came out, and I saw the trailer for it and thought it would be blasphemous and swore I’d never see it. Then husband and son saw it at the $2.00 theater, and husband told me about it. Yes, it’s childish and silly and vulgar at times, but I like it. “Evan” was milder than “Bruce” and I like it better. The scene where God talks to Evan’s wife in the restaurant resonated with me. If you pray for patience, does God give you patience, or the opportunity to practice patience? If you pray for courage, does God give you courage, or the opportunity to be courageous? If you pray for a closer family….well, you get the idea.
So, what opportunities have made themselves known during these past 5 years? Patience? Yes. Courage? Yes. Togetherness? Yes. Trust? Most definitely, yes.
But I think the biggest opportunity has been…to be thankful for what we have and who we have in our lives.
Because tomorrow something or someone I thought I had might not be here.
It’s the opportunity to be thankful for……today.
Yep, it’s Thanksgiving again. And to those who are part of this life I have, I say “Thanks.”