Turkey Blues

by Bella Rum

Thanksgiving is gone but the turkey is not. He is loath to leave us, lingering on in his cool environment, waiting patiently in his airtight home, offering endless days of leftovers, and just when we think we can not stuff one more turkey sandwich down our throats, he’ll reinvent himself in the form of a bottomless pot of turkey hash soup, and carry on, like the trooper he is, for at least another week. The Thanksgiving turkey truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

So, Thanksgiving day is over and what do I think about that? Truth? I’m relieved. It was not an easy day around here. My sister “lost her battle with cancer” a few months ago. I’ve heard that expression many times before, and believed it was a way to describe someones courage, which it is, but it’s far more than a platitude to describe someones character. I now know that it is an accurate description of what a person goes through when they choose chemotherapy over the the only other alternative. The word battle describes it perfectly.

I place no judgment on those who decide not to carry on. In fact, this may be my choice if I ever have to face it. I can’t know for sure, can I?

I can not tell you how often my sister said to me, “I wish I was brave.” No matter how often I told her how brave she was and how much I looked up to her, she always believed she could and should have been stronger. She never did see that courage does not mean absence of fear or dread.

So, yesterday was not an easy day. I called her husband and we talked about her. He finds in me a mirror of his longing. I don’t try to hide how much I miss her, and I think he wants to hear this. He finds comfort in knowing that she mattered to someone else in the same way she mattered to him, that there’s someone else out there who isn’t ready to move on. It makes it possible for him to remove the veil, and reveal his own longing without fear of making someone else feel they must prop him up. I don’t prop him up.

I know that people mean well when they say, “Remember, you haven’t lost her; she’s still here.” My experience does not tell me that. It’s not that I don’t believe she still exist on some level, but she is not here in any tangible way that I can perceive. Yes, of course, I have her memories and yes, of course, she lives on in all of those who loved her, but these banalities don’t help right now, as much as I wish they did.

That’s what grief is. It’s that in between place, in between the actual loss and that point in the future when the pain subsides, and the memories actually do become “enough.” I know the place where I now reside does not last forever, but let me have it for as long as I need it. Let me rage that I don’t have my sister anymore if that’s what I need to do; let me conjure up her voice, remember her scent, and long for her touch . Let me torture myself for this time in space if that’s what I need to do.

I know that her husband and I will get to that place where we can wax philosophical, and that will probably be enough to comfort us someday, but not yet.

First we have to get through Christmas and then there’s New Year’s and let’s not forget birthdays and …..

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