What’s not to love about a man who does dishes? I used to host Thanksgiving on the farm in Hurlock, MD. Keith managed to endear himself to my family very quickly as he commandeered the kitchen to scrub up the pile of plates, pots, pans, and utensils while the rest of us struggled to move away from the table with our densely stuffed stomachs. At my grandparent’s birthday party, Aunt Jan caught him over the sink, scrubbing away, and proclaimed “he’s a keeper”.
The crazy notion of once again hosting a large Thanksgiving dinner grabbed a hold of me this year. It has been met with a mixed bag of emotions. I haven’t fired up the kitchen like this in almost 7 years and I’m thrilled to pull out the mixer and fire up the oven and root around in the pantry for feast day treats. This is also the last holiday Keith was with me.
I know he got an ear full yesterday as his corn fed, farm raised wife did her suburban duty and raked all the leaves out of the front yard. A task he took great pride in doing and insisted the whole family pitch (or rake) in to get every annoying piece of tree debris to the curb. Meanwhile, the entire time I’m raking away, I’m thinking that this practice is a perfectly good waste of time, energy and natural compost.
As I made my late night run to the grocery store, I could feel the weight of his absence. I wouldn’t return from the store tonight with the list he had given me. I wouldn’t be met at the car with an extra hand to carry everything in. I wouldn’t walk into the house embracing all the pre-Thanksgiving prep smells of onions and garlic and spices. I tried to replace a light over the kitchen sink but the fixture seems to be broken. Keith would have been able to get it running with a stick of gum, a toothpick, and rubber band.
One more milestone, one more step towards learning how to live in this life after Keith. There is room in my soul to both grieve and be thankful. I am thankful that I will have my family around me tomorrow. A family full of warmth, strength and love. I am thankful for my friends near and far, long standing and new, that have lifted me up in ways I don’t think they could ever fathom. All of you are my anchor keeping me in safe harbors, my light chasing away the shadows. I am thankful that for a short time, I walked through life with a man worthy of all the love I could give him and he, in turn, loved me deeply. These gifts I carry with me may not get the dishes done or the leaves raked or the turkey cooked, but in this strange new world I now inhabit, they are everything that matters.