A friend and I exchanged text messages this week, each of us revealing trepidation regarding our preparations for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Every so often, if I do say so myself, I completely nail a text message, and on this one to her: I nailed it.
Holidays are good, but not without challenge. It’s OK to be anxious about that. There’s always that expectation of the ideal Normal Rockwell family gathering. Ours ends up being more like a Jackson Pollock painting.
Every year since I began telling my tale here, I’ve written a message of thanks and gratitude on/around Thanksgiving. Though I’m struggling mightily these days, the show must go on. I’ve left no trail of daisies and unicorns in my wake in 2019, but despite my, shall we call it “malaise,” it matters that I acknowledge the supporting cast and crew who make life a little sweeter and the spirit of Thanksgiving ring a little more true. If I fail to offer up thanks to the enormous army of good friends, family, and even strangers who showed my family and me kindness and goodwill this year, I’ll regret it. As I reviewed previous Thanksgiving posts, I was tickled to notice that many in my “I’m thankful for you” crew have stuck with me for years. Boy, I thought 2015 was going to crush me, but 2019 makes 2015 seem like amateur hour. I was less tickled to notice I was a better writer in each of 2016, 2017, and 2018. I thought you’re supposed to get better with practice, right?? Lies. I’ll just chalk this little slide up to 2019 too.
If you even so much as thought about me or my family in a positive light this year–thank you. If you didn’t verbally express it or text it, email it, or snail mail it, but you so much as thought about us for one poof of an instant and wished us well–thank you. I do believe my husband’s miraculous physical recovery is based in his own indomitable spirit bolstered by this type of support.
If you provided dinner for us or if you sent us a gift card for food after the accident, if you brought pie or ice cream–thank you. You helped nourish our bellies and souls.
If you sent us or handed us money to help cover our bases this summer–thank you. Prior to our life-altering May, I hadn’t really understood the tradition of slipping cash into a get well card or sympathy card. Oh, terrifically humbled, I get it NOW, and we wouldn’t have bridged the summer gap without you. It’s balance enough not getting paid all summer, but to have been docked several days’ pay while Tom’s income took something of a hit, felt insurmountable. But you helped us climb and summit that hill.
If you visited Tom in the hospital or in our home at any point, and visiting us isn’t something you’d have otherwise normally done–thank you. I vividly recall him propped up in that complex, behemoth hospital bed, affirming over and over to his visitors that he just wanted to get back to the old Tom Weir. Before May, I was the type of person who believed that one’s hospital stay was an intensely private affair, and visiting was an intrusion beyond good grace. My husband loved those brief though exhausting visits.
If you donated to our Muscular Dystrophy Association Muscle Walk this year–thank you. I was unable to attend the event last June myself, but Team Greater Than Gravity pulled in almost $2700 to support kids like mine and adults with muscle disease.
If you offered assistance for household chores or if you maintained our yard all spring and summer long–thank you! Yeah, that one’s a little specific, but short of monetary remuneration, how do you thank someone for landscape maintenance?
If you dedicated your band’s performance to my husband’s survival–thank you. Sure, a little specific on this one too.
If you encountered a very sullen, scatter-brained, ornery, or quiet me and granted me a wide berth–thank you.
Another term I tossed in the text exchange with that same friend is “functional depression.” I’m not sure I have that, or that functional depression is even a DSM-5 diagnostic code, but here’s my working definition: keeping your shit together in public and for work, because work, and seeking little company beyond the 9-to-5. I’ve socialized little since the accident, almost none. At first it was because my husband needed round-the-clock support and I quite literally couldn’t leave his side, and now it’s by my own design. I participate in the mandatory–jury duty, work, my kids’ school activities, concerts, and games–and I look and mostly behave like a human, but I am not seeking company. And right now I’m OK with that even if you’re not. It’s not personal. Actually, I suppose it is personal, but it’s truly an “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of deal. It’s me.
Sure, my brain and my Thanksgiving table resemble a work from Pollock more than one of Rockwell’s slices of Americana, but we’re still here. Messy and frazzled, but rolling out of bed to face each day. Some days getting up and at ’em is the greatest victory. Happy Thanksgiving, all! May you find yourself surrounded by good food and great people! And if you’re like me, shying away from the spotlight for now, may you be surrounded by good food and great people who accept your laying low.