Matt, Today is Thanksgiving. I can feel the grief stalking me as I try to keep my mask in place as I face this bittersweet day. That battered mask I wear hiding my true heartbreak from the world. Today is a day to give thanks for all the blessings we have received throughout the year. Yes, I know I have been blessed. I have my health, my home, a loving husband. I have your brother and a beautiful granddaughter. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but your loss puts my life into a different perspective. What I long for is to have you here.
Memories of past Thanksgivings flood my brain. I close my eyes and go back to a time when holidays were full of crazy family chaos. I can see you and Mike standing side by side frying the turkey as your laughter surrounded your faces as frozen breaths of air. I can still hear your voices and see your heads almost touching as you tried to keep your conversation from drifting into the house.
The rest of us inside staying warm, sipping wine as we prepared the rest of our feast. The dogs underfoot trying to grab whatever morsel of food that fell to the floor. My heart was full of gratitude having both my boys and my family under one roof to celebrate our blessings and each other.
Thanksgiving of 2014 would be your last Thanksgiving on earth. If only I had known. You were in a sober home in Florida as your addiction reared it’s ugly, unrelenting head once again. I was celebrating with family at home, but my heart was in Florida with you. Your absence left a void that nothing could fill. As we sat around the table I dialed your number longing to make you a part of the family’s conversation. Your voice sounded amazing. Clear and strong. I could picture your smile as you shared your holiday plans with us.
You were gathering with friends to share turkey and fellowship. You sounded excited about life once again. I could hear the old Matt back in your voice and although I missed you terribly I knew your recovery was priority over my wanting you home. As I passed the phone around the table, everyone agreed how great you sounded. We were all so proud of your recovery and looked forward to future holidays together. If only I had known.
I remember stalking your Facebook page sitting alone in the dark Thanksgiving night. Family gone. The house cleaned and quiet. I needed to see your face and convince myself that I could relax and trust that my blessings would continue along with your recovery. You posted the best picture of you and all your friends. Happy smiling faces all wrapped up in one big hug. I have that picture in a frame. I stare at your face in disbelief. If only I had known…………