First Holidays **

          Below is a lovely poem that I read on my first birthday without my daughter. There were so many outside expectations of me on this day. Maybe hopes on my behalf is more accurate.   As was my experience with the losses of my parents and sister, others were farther along in their grief by degree of relationship to my daughter. Thankfully they were well past thinking about her from sunup to sundown, and that is as it should be.
           I, however, was still living in the depth of my grief while trying to hide it from others. I have no idea how well I was doing in hiding it, but I was trying and that's what I remember the most. My skin no longer felt like it was being peeled off, yet my world was still layered in levels of mute numbness combined with raw sadness. This day was also Thanksgiving, which had always been my favorite holiday. On this Thanksgiving my love for the day left me for many years.
         Now I love the day again, but for different reasons. Now if I celebrate Thanksgiving, I try not to participate in the mass of food and leftovers in exchange for a smaller gratitude dinner with just my children. It's not that I don't like the food, it's just that I appreciate time spent with my kids and grandkids over time spent cooking and cleaning. It's not that I don't like to spend time with
the rest of my family, it's that I value the time with my children above all else.
          There are times when we are all invited to a larger family or friends event on the holidays these days, and it's become my habit to step back and let the kids decide. I go where they go. They are my remaining path to any measure of bliss.

24 November 2011
FB post: The Compassionate Friends/USA
"Wishing you all a safe and gentle holiday.Thank you to TCF's good friend and member, poet Genesse Gentry for our Thanksgiving poem today.

First Thanksgiving

The thought of being thankful
fills my heart with dread.
They’ll all be feigning gladness,
not a word about her said.

These heavy shrouds of blackness
enveloping my soul,
pervasive, throat-catching
writhe in me, and coil.

I must, I must acknowledge,
just express her name,
so all sitting at the table,
know I’m thankful that she came.

Though she’s gone from us forever
and we mourn to see her face,
not one minute of her living,
would her death ever replace.

So I stop the cheerful gathering,
though my voice quivers, quakes,
make a toast to all her living.
That small tribute’s all it takes.

Genesse Bourdeau Gentry
TCF, Marin/San Francisco, CA"