Turkey Day

The other day I had coffee with a couple of friends. This is something we do about once a week or so. Sometimes when I go for these meetings I approach it as simply something on my schedule for the day. The truth is that I am jealous of my friends–that they still have life partners and they have children and grandchildren and they approach the coming holidays with plans for large family gatherings and a reason to fix a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.  The truth is I miss that and although I get invited to more than one turkey dinner each year it’s not the same…it can never again be the same.

Oh, there is much I can replicate–I can make the dinner with all the trimmings and I can usually find someone to share it with but without L teasing me about my need to make sure the TV is tuned to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and my insistence that ‘that’ Santa is the real deal–without L to pass by the kitchen and praise the delicious smells coming from there– without L sitting beside me or across the table (even when someone else hosts the meal) giving me that smile and our special secret signal to say ‘I love you’ it is not and cannot be the same.

And the truth is that I am so very tired of realizing that, of knowing that I must find new ways and build new memories. And so my days come in three flavors: lousy, doing-the-best-I-can; and thankfully mostly ‘okay.’ And then when I walked out of that coffee meeting with my friends I felt something I so rarely feel: I felt good. I felt happy. I felt at peace with myself in this new world. Our meeting was nothing out of the ordinary–we discussed films and plays and books we’re reading. We solved most of the world’s problems. We laughed and shook our heads at the silly pettiness of much that goes on in politics.  But there was something there because later when I mentioned it to my friends they had felt it as well.

So here’s what I’m thinking: I’m thinking there was a 4th person at that coffee and it was L reminding me that (as he so often said in life) “It is what it is” and opening my heart to the incredible gift of friends who care, share and are there.


4 thoughts on “Turkey Day

  1. dear Susan, i found your blog and read it straight through this evening. I am so very sorry that your Beloved L died, and I will keep you held up into the brightest light hope as you try to keep finding your way. I lost my husband 18 mos. ago, when I found he had died in his sleep, in our bed right next to me. we both had cancer at the same time, and had both been in remission for 9 months. we were living such a gorgeous, re-invented life and his death was not related to his rare cancer. 8 wks later I was diagnosed with another cancer – uterine, and endured 9 mos, of grueling treatment, alone without my Love at me side. grieving the losses that cancer mete’s out, especially ST IV metastatic BC, my first diagnosis, but also with the uterine, also metastatic, collided with such aching, raw and complex grief. I was deemed NED, no evidence of disease, but will be in treatment for the rest of my life. so as I slog through the mud that sometimes feels like quicksand, working through all the trauma and loss, the most pervasive element is loneliness. I hang onto that handy saw – it is what it is, and it will be what I make of it. I still have some wonderful friends, and though I am not always included in things that formerly were a given, I try hard to live each day in the “now” – hardest thing I have ever had to do. cancer has turned a paler shade, and I have a wonderful therapist providing treatment for PTSD. I was a hospice nurse for 30 yrs, loved my work, and thought I knew there is nothing on this earth that isn’t possible – but I was wrong.

    your words, so eloquent and raw with candor and authenticity are a great comfort to me. it’s lovely reading about and getting to know you and L; so much of your personalities resonates with me. I don’t yet know who I am nor where I am heading, I feel lost and broken and aimless and wish so much I could conjure up even a shadowy vision of what my life “after” will look like. but one thing I know for sure is that this horrific ride through grief is worth the love we created and shared for nearly 46 years.

    the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke writing in his letters of sadness once wondered, “what if all the Dragons on our lives were really Princesses, waiting to see us both Beautiful and Brave?”. I think about that often – I so wish to be Beautiful and Brave.

    I send you warm, gentle hugs to thank you for all the effort and time you give to tell your story; I know you are helping legions of others who want so desperately to hold onto hope, move through, and move forward towards creating a new life.

    fond and grateful wishes to you,


    1. Okay, you are ALREADY ‘beautiful and brave,’ Karen. The fact that you are able to entertain a rational thought after what you have been through astounds me. It is your eloquence that touches me and perhaps that is the true purpose of this blog–to share and support one another as together and separately we find our way. Please stay in touch! Anna
      PS: I too had uterine cancer although I was blessed in that it was contained within the uterus. Know that you do not walk alone although there will be hours and days (and perhaps even weeks) when it feels that way. Your husband is there with you–as am I and so many others who understand.

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