This post is by Leah
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I’ve always been enamored with the holiday that gives us space and encouragement to simply be thankful. Every year my family (grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles) gathered around the food-filled table and we would each share something that we were thankful for. I grew up around those tables and each year our “thanks” evolved with our ever-transforming lives. It is a tradition that I keep among my most cherished memories.
This year however, Thanksgiving is decidedly more complicated. Two months ago my father passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, my once favorite holiday is now tinged with sadness and mourning. There is certainly a part of me that would love nothing more than to skip Thanksgiving this year. To politely decline participating, “thank you for coming, unfortunately I am unable to celebrate.” But Thanksgiving will come whether I like it or not, and perhaps it’s coming just in the nick of time. Perhaps this year Thanksgiving will be a veiled gift, a reminder to give thanks especially when it is most difficult. Perhaps this year Thanksgiving is throwing down the gauntlet, “acknowledge the exquisite beauty that is surrounding you, I dare you. Give thanks.”
I am thankful.
I am thankful for the unfathomable outpouring of love, compassion, kindness, and sympathy over the past two months. I don’t think I will ever be able to find the words to express my true gratitude; it has been the most humbling experience of my life. The flood of emails, phone calls, visits to the house, text messages, facebook posts, and cards was truly overwhelming. This outpouring of support has been the most unbelievable affirmation of how truly good people can be. In the most difficult time, I have been repeatedly astounded by honest compassion and kindness. It has been a gift that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
I am thankful that every morning I get to wake up next to my best friend. Daniel is truly the love of my life and I am profoundly grateful to have him.
I am thankful for my unwavering forever friends; they are the most loyal, generous, kind-hearted, compassionate, creative, loving people I have ever known. To say that I’m lucky to have them in my life is perhaps the greatest understatement of all. They have made this terrible tragedy bearable and I am forever a better person for having them in my life.
I am thankful for my brothers who set the standard for unconditional love. They teach me patience and remind me to never take myself too seriously.
I am thankful for my inspiring, unwavering, family. They redefine extraordinary.
I am thankful for my father who believed in me. I am thankful for the man who taught me right from wrong, who taught me to never give up, and who taught me how to love.
I am thankful for my mother who is the strongest person I have ever known. I am thankful for the woman who has no idea how beautiful, how resilient, how wise, and how powerful she is. She is my inspiration, my best friend, and my true love.
I am thankful that Thanksgiving didn’t take the year off. Remembering how much there is to be thankful for is reason enough to give thanks.
I am thankful.