I had a wonderful birthday this year. It fell on Thanksgiving itself and so I excused myself from cooking. R took care of the dinner and it was delicious (courtesy of Whole Foods). Then he and the girls washed the dishes and pans so I did not lift a finger, except spending a good part of the day trying to bake my cake! It sort of turn out… it was not what I wanted visually, but taste-wise it did very well, so I was very satisfied!
On Black Friday I did some more baking and then got out to have coffee with a dear friend. It had been quite a while and it was lovely to sit and chat. Plus, we had turkey leftovers for dinner so I did not have to cook for a second night. That was a treat!!
Saturday I went to my friend M’s house for tea. We had planned that way ahead. What I did not know was that my girls had planned a surprise party for me, emailing my friends and inviting them over to M’s house. And wonderful M just said “yes” to the request, even offering to bake a cake! In the end, only one other person showed up. It was the holiday weekend and everyone had plans, and the girls started their planning a tad late. Still, I was moved by their efforts. They even managed to produce a plate of fruits that I did not know about! — While I got myself and Lyra changed, they cut up bananas and apples (which they had bought prior and hid in R’s room) and melted some chocolate chips (stolen from my baking drawer) and drizzled the chocolate over the fruits. The plate was hid in the back of the car, so I had no idea! My friend M treated our bellies to some truly yummy baked goods, both sweet and savory. I was rather blissed out!
On Sunday my friend K brought me out to lunch. I picked Thai and we nearly exhausted all options, because most restaurants decided to close for Thanksgiving Sunday. We were so relieved to find one restaurant open! The food was yummy delicious and the company wonderful. K’s mother died earlier this year so there were some tears, but I was only honored to be able to hold her space. Then she suggested going elsewhere for gelato, and bought some for me to bring home to R and the girls, “to thank them for letting me have you for a few hours.” Isn’t she the sweetest?
I was honestly rather overwhelmed by all these goodness. I felt triply blessed.
Except for a part of my life. The part about Ferdinand.
I know many people will immediately pipe up with, “But you have three healthy girls! You ought to be grateful.” Even R told me we should be grateful for what we have, when I shared with him that I missed Ferdinand at Thanksgiving dinner.
I am thankful. Deeply, genuinely, intensely.
But that does not mean I cannot mourn and miss my son. I love him, and I miss him. AND I am still grateful for the tremendous abundance that I have.
Life is not either/or. I don’t think so, at least mine is not.
I can be happy and sad at the same time. Angry and grateful at the same time. Annoyed and tickled in the same moment. Frazzled and blissed in the same second. Pained and joyous altogether in a heartbeat.
I am really tired of being told that I ought to be grateful. It makes me want to say, “YOU ought to be grateful your child did not die.” But that is just spreading toxic all around. So I zip my mouth, and thought of making a T-shirt that says, “My life is not either/or.”
Life can be simple, but not neatly packaged. There is a difference there. And perhaps it is only humans who have the capability to experience complicated emotions. I can experience more than one thing at a time. It does not make me ungrateful. On the contrary, it makes me very grateful.
The caveat is that the deeper the joy one experiences, the more one is aware of the depths of sorrow. But that need not be a bad thing. It just is. In my book life was never supposed to be one-dimensional and either/or.