I’ve only spent one Thanksgiving alone. It was in Providence, Rhode Island in 1999. I am not much of a cook, so I went to Boston Market and purchased all of the fixings for a giant Thanksgiving dinner for one. I lit some candles, dimmed the lights, played some classical music, and ate a lovely dinner. I didn’t want to miss out on the tradition of going around the table saying what I was thankful for, so I sat down with a paper and a pencil and made a list. As I was writing my list I became super emotional and sad. I was thankful for so much, and I didn’t have anyone to share it with. I was alone. I was sad. It was my most depressing Thanksgiving ever.
Now, don’t go feeling bad for me. I have a pretty great life. Even then, during my darkest days, I had a lot of good things going for me… Let’s switch gears for a second and talk about something else.
Christian was my cousin. He grew up a few blocks away from me, so we went to the same church, elementary, middle, and high school together. He was the first boy that invited me to play with him at recess. (Which was 5th or 6th grade – I was too busy playing Barbie and My Little Pony before then.) He was always so warm and welcoming. He gave me so much love and has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever come across. We may not have been cousins by blood (his dad used to be married to my dad’s sister – they divorced and his dad got remarried – then Christian was born), but we called each other “cuz” at school and at church. I have always loved Christian, and I’ve always considered him a part of my family.
Liam is the cutest little 4 year old on the planet. I got a voicemail from my brother on Monday telling me that Liam had passed away. He struggled with cancer and continued to fight for his life all the way up until the end. I can try to imagine what his parents are going through, but I can’t. They must be going through Hell. So much more than I’ve ever had to endure. It breaks my heart. I came home from work, after hearing the voicemail from my brother, and I bawled in my bedroom. Why is it that a child, a 4 year old boy, would have to go through this? Why was he only able to live through four years? It’s so unfair that a life would have to end so early. I may have had a terrible childhood, but I got to grow out of it and have a fabulous adult-hood. Why wasn’t Liam granted that same opportunity?
Dear Christian, I’m so sorry. While most of us celebrate this day of thankfulness, you are likely in a really sad place. How can I feel so bad about the awful points in my life when I know that a young child, your son, was not able to make it to his 5th birthday? My heart aches for you. No parent should out live their child. It isn’t fair. It isn’t how life is supposed to work. Children are supposed to outlive their parents. My heart breaks for you so much right now.
Today is Thanksgiving. I’m so thankful for so many things. Christian, you are one of the them. I’m so thankful that you were always so kind to me. I’m so thankful that you accepted me as a friend in elementary school when others would turn their noses up. I’m thankful that several years later we got to play dungeons and dragons together in the pink house (the house that I eventually lived in – the one with the janky shower in the dungeon basement) and make fun of your sister, my cousin, and her husband. I loved throwing fake fireballs and pretending to be a gnome or some other fictional character. I’m thankful that you and I got to reconnect via facebook. I love you so much and I’m so sorry for what you and your family are going through right now.
May we all hold on to the ones that we love. Tell them that you love them, and tell them often. Don’t let go. Life can be awful at times, but we have each other. We have hope. We have love. Smile. Live. Enjoy.
If you are reading this, I’m thankful for you. Happy Thanksgiving.