Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and officially kicking off the holiday season. I know from reading others blogs that the holiday season, when you are the parent (brother/sister/spouse/grandparent) of an addict, that the holidays are often filled with trepidation. Will they show up high? Will they show up at all? Will pieces of the good silver go missing? Will there be a blowout and a scene? The negative possibilites are endless when there is an addict in your life.
Remarkably, when the Prince was alive, our holidays were without drama. The 2009 holiday season preceeded his death by mere weeks. In hindsight, I can remember him being quieter than usual, and looking at the pictures from that late fall/early winter, you can see the difference in his eyes. The dark circles around them.
I do not know what it is like to celebrate a holiday while my child is incarcerated, or in a rehab. I only know what it is like to have the perpetual empty seat at my holiday table, the seat where my Prince once sat. The seat that he will never sit in again. The empty seats in the future where his wife and my grandchildren should have sat. It is so easy to dwell on the pain and the loss. I still have moments daily that take my breath away with the realization that he is really and truly dead.
As the weather turns slowly in the fall, and the holidays approach, I fantasize about not celebrating at all. I dream of getting on an airplane and laying in the warm sun and eating fresh mangos instead of roasting a turkey and certainly not preparing for the mother of all family holidays- Christmas. If I could flip the calendar from October 31st- January 9th each year I would. Its hard to be thankful and full of joy when you spend more time planning on how you will decorate your childs grave for the holidays than you think about decorating your home.
My once large family has grown smaller with each passing year, and I have lost interest in carrying on holiday traditions and. Yet,my Little Prince deserves the Mom he used to have, the Mom who painstakingly planned every detail of every holiday menu and tried her best to make everything as perfect as possible (within a perfectly flawed family that is) at each celebration.
A part of that Mom is gone forever. I can see it in my own eyes when I look in the mirror. The pain of losing a child is indescribable. And it is there, present, front and center with every breath you take. But, as I sat by my sons grave this past Sunday, where I spend most of my weekend days, it occured to me, that I have spent more time over the last 22 months at the graveside of my dead child than I have spent focusing on the precious child I still have. The living, breathing, young man who needs his mother desperatley. And it occured to me how very, very wrong and unfair that is.
It would be easy to skip the holiday... having a dead child gets you a pass on these kinds of things, but then, after much reflection, I decided to take a long hard look at myself and remember what Thanksgiving is really about. It is about being thankful for our blessings and what we have, and I realized that although my heart is broken, I am very thankful for the life of my Prince. To have had the joy of his existance for 20 years, to have been hugged and held in his strong arms, to have watched him in the process of becoming a man. They werent always good years, but I always loved him deeply and fully. I feel priviledged to have been given the honor of being his Mom, although he was taken from me too soon. And I am thankful for the realization that this life is really not all about me and my pain, that I have this other beautiful human that I brought into this world and I am equally blessed to have him.
So please take a moment on Thanksgiving and think of my Prince, and all of our addicts, and be grateful for them, wherever they may be. Allow yourself a moment to smile and remember better days, and know that you will all be in my prayers and that I am thankful for each and every blogger out there that shares their story.