Thursday, November 25, 2010
A Thanksgiving Tale
Because there were so many aunts, uncles, cousins and a special grandmother, everyone got together for every holiday. At Thanksgiving, there was so much chatter, the wonderful smells of a feast being prepared, the shouts of children playing and it was a picture worthy of Norman Rockwell.
The woman smiled and hugged and held conversations and helped fix the food and behaved as if everything were perfectly normal. She had a hard time understanding why she felt such a hard knot of sadness inside herself. After all, she had moved on, married, had children she could keep and raise and had the approval of her family. So why was it always lacking something? Why was there the feeling that there was something missing? They told her it would get better, that she would forget.
So she tried to do just that. She pushed it all so far down inside herself that she wasn't even really aware of anything except that the edges were off the holiday joy and the champagne of celebration tasted a bit flat. Emotionally, she was like a mouth after a visit to the dentist...partially anesthetized. She stuffed food into that empty hole but it never was filled.
It took years for what was buried to emerge and to be recognized for what it was....grief. For all the normality of the family holiday gatherings, something very abnormal had happened to the woman and it would affect her for the rest of her life. There was abundant love in her for many children and she loved both her raised children very, very much, for who they were. But she also loved two other children and they were not with her, were taken from her and she didn't know where they were or how they were or if they were even still alive. But her mother's heart bled and ached most heavily when there were family events and there were two family members missing. For the sake of the children she was raising, she acted happy and content.
When someone in a family is lost, there is grieving to be done, but the woman was not allowed to grieve openly and receive comfort. When she reunited with her two lost children, she finally gave voice to her mourning and it was heard. That was when she realized that, behind that Norman Rockwell picture of her family gathered at the table, was an 800-pound gorilla being ignored by everyone. In the living room, where the parades and football games played on, an elephant sat square in the middle, also ignored. It was as if, to the rest of her clan, her two lost babies didn't exist.
Today, turkeys will be roasted, pies will be baked and families will exchange hugs and kisses and it will be a very pretty picture, worthy of a painting. But one wonders how many women will sit at those feast-laden tables feeling that sadness and incompleteness? I pray that there will come a day when no woman will feel that way.