Grace meeting my maternal grandfather, Ba, for the first time. Her middle name (and my mother’s, and mine) is his name.
Today we are celebrating Thanksgiving with my father’s family. It will be our first Thanksgiving without Pops, who for many, many years presided over a table groaning with 2 turkeys and circled by well over 30 extended family members (and the odd random – I love them, Mum, I really do!). I actually can’t imagine the meal without his saying grace first, his voice halting and cracking, his eyes filling with tears. We will miss him acutely today.
But it is the Thanksgiving 10 years ago that is on my mind. On November 28, 2002, Matt and I drove the hour south to my parents’ house in near-silence. Matt’s father was still in a coma after his heart transplant two days ago. I was deep in the darkness of my newly-diagnosed postpartum depression. The economy was in freefall. In those days, we both walked gingerly, wondering if the earthquake was finished, hoping the roof over our head was sturdy, trying to find our balance.
In those shaky hours, my head swarming with questions and my heart galloping with anxiety, I was able to recognize the abundant good. Both of my grandfathers held my brand-new daughter. In the evening, we visited my father-in-law in the hospital and heard that he was beginning to wake up. We were suspended between then and now, between birth and death and the infinite shades of gray that exist in between. My gratitude was almost – but not quite – smothered by bewilderment and fear. This is the lesson I remember today: there are always miracles, and there is always beauty. Always. We just have to look carefully.
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you…
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is
-W. S. Merwin
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