My favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving. Food, family, cheer and so much love. My Bubbe, Yiddish for grandmother, also loved Thanksgiving for those reasons, and perhaps passed that love onto me. It was only fitting, that when we lost her two years ago, she would pass on the night of Thanksgiving.
It was always ironic to me that my Bubbe loved Thanksgiving, preferring her own company to that of a party, even though she always seemed to be the center of attention in a crowded room. I think what drew her to it was joy. Her early life was not filled with very much happiness, as her stories would tell me. And so growing up, she always loved hearing of my joys. She would laugh and laugh at even the most irrelevant stories.
She wasn’t a healthy woman, but always was sharp and quick with her tongue. Her personality was exuberant and so we never noticed the early signs of Alzheimer’s… At least that’s how a doctor explained it.
From an early age, my Bubbe spoke of death often, whether it was to prepare us or maybe more to prepare herself. She was fascinated by the topic, but she would always promise she would make it to my wedding and seeing her first grandchild. The last couple years, she would want to listen to less and less stories, and travel back and forth from the hospital more and more.
Looking back, I wonder if she knew what was happening and withdrew to herself because it hurt her to know that she would miss out on so much joy. In fact, the weekend of my bridal shower, she would go into the hospital. I went to visit her after to tell her all about it, still dressed in full tea party attire, and she would refuse to open her eyes for the entire time I was there. I was deeply hurt, but I think so was she. She fell into a “black hole” that she never recovered from, with a broken promise of not making it to my wedding or her first grandchild.
I like to believe she died on Thanksgiving so that she would always be surrounded by joy, making up for her early life and broken promises, and always be with us on such a happy occasion.
This year, my husband, Nate, also lost a beloved grandmother: his MawMaw. Losing a loved one is never easy, and more often than not, we tend to mourn lives and not celebrate them enough. So a challenge.. on this Thanksgiving, and every Thanksgiving, while we talk about what we’re thankful for, the food and the football game, we should also take a moment to speak of our fondest memories for those that can’t be with us. Let’s all choose to raise a glass and to toast our lost loved ones who are always with us.