It's about family

When we are in LA, we have two Thanksgivings, as my dad and his wife have people over their house for a second turkey dinner on Friday each year.  Between the two days, many people asked how we are doing in various ways.  I think that seeing us with a beautiful happy baby and big smiles on our faces was perhaps confusing and misleading.  To be expected I suppose.  Some of the conversations were awkward, some were really lovely.  Also to be expected.  It used to make me so sad to know that from now on I am the person who makes many other people uncomfortable.  Now I don't really care about it so much.  The people that I make uncomfortable don't seem to be bothered about making me uncomfortable.  I am as eager to get out of conversations and situations with them as they to get out of them with me quite frankly - so we're even I guess.

What I was most looking forward to this Thanksgiving was seeing my Auntie Harriet at my mom's house.  She is wonderful, and so warm and funny and Ted and I are crazy about her.  She is my grandpa Jack's sister and I haven't seen much of her since Maxie passed.  She is my only living relative who knows exactly what I am going through, because she lost a child too.  Not too long ago in fact. Auntie Harriet lost her wonderful, beautiful, HILARIOUS daughter, Andrea, who used to live in our guest house with her husband Stan when I was a teenager.  My memories of hanging out with her in those days were of just laughing all of the time...and then they moved out and I went off to college (Pitzer - Andrea's alma mater).  I don't really remember which came first.  That she is really gone doesn't seem real still.  It just feels like maybe I haven't seen her in a long time, which sometimes happens with family.  It doesn't feel real, the way I am sure Maxie's death doesn't seem real to many people, because I am not her mother.  Or her twin.

Andrea's twin Stephanie is also hilarious.  HILARIOUS.  I have spent lots of time since she lost Andrea thinking about how totally devastating the loss of a twin must be.  Like losing half of who you are.  Terrible.  I won't say too much more about it because they are really private, and while I am an open book, I get and respect privacy.  I'll just say this - the time I spent with the two of them this Thanksgiving was the most special.  I was bummed that I had just put Mo down right before they arrived but when I saw him squirming on the monitor 20 minutes later, I ran upstairs and got him.  I knew that Auntie Harriet was crushed to hear that Ted and I lost Maxie.  It was in some ways just too much for her to handle after losing her own daughter, which makes perfect sense.  I was so glad and excited to be able to introduce Harriet and Stephanie to Mo.

Before we started eating on Thursday, my mom raised a glass to remember those who aren't with us she does every year.  Those who we love and miss and who, at one point or another, sat beside us for this very same meal. The first year Andrea was in that list, I felt like we all looked around the table in disbelief that we were actually listing her as one of the missing.  Stephanie explained to me that Thanksgiving was Andrea's favorite holiday - which explains why they hadn't been at my moms for the last years of Andrea's life.  They had been at her home.  Last year and this year, mom's list included my Maxie.  Still totally unbelievable and shocking to me.  I am sure it always will be.   It meant SO much to Ted and I to have our baby acknowledged on this day when his presence is so glaringly absent.  Above all else, to me, Thanksgiving is about family - the ones who are there physically and the ones who are there only in our hearts.


SadMama said...

How wonderful that someone was able to mention Maxie along with other beloved family members. I was completely unable to utter my son's name at the table...I knew I'd have a complete breakdown and ruin the meal for everyone else. My daughter and husband and i cried before and after the dinner (privately) but could not say anything when we were with other people.

Stephanie Sajjadieh said...

I cannot begin to express how wonderful and healing it was to share that time with you on Thanksgiving. I love you all so much.