I am starting to feel the pressures coming with Thanksgiving. Logistics are playing a big part of this holiday. Who’s cooking this? Who’s picking up so and so? How do I cook two turkeys and pay close attention to both? These all mask the serious question. How are WE all going to survive this holiday without Jacob’s physical presence? This consumes my thoughts. Jacob was the center of every family party in all the right ways. He had the ability to dance, laugh and joke while including everyone. He also found time to always to talk to everyone individually, if only for a moment.
Thanksgiving was always a Dallet day. We would switch off traveling back and forth from Milwaukee/Cleveland. We always spend Christmas with my family. Christmas starts off at my brother’s house with the year’s only stollen (a German bread made with nuts, raisins, and rum) followed by an elegant meal at Hallie’s of beef tenderloin and perfectly cooked al dente green beans with almond slivers. I can taste the creamy horseradish sauce now. Christmas always ends in a cousin dance party where everyone ends up on the dance floor.
Back to Thanksgiving. Jacob was diagnosed in April of 2019. That fall, although technically in remission, his white blood cell count was low. Very low. We had a subdued giving of thanks. We were all grateful and thankful for Jacob’s health. In remembering that time, I remember how uneasy we all felt that year. We had a small group and Jacob was very weak. Jacob’s spirits weren’t the same. He was processing all of what had hit him. Before cancer, Jacob embraced being the epicenter of fun. He loved engaging with everyone. That year felt forced. We all tried but no one succeeded. We were tired.
I have little memory of last year’s Thanksgiving. It was Jacob’s last. I know he was very sick. I remember the bird tasting better than it ever had. I don’t remember anything else. I wish I could remember it. That’s the crazy thing about grief. It steals some memories while making others dulled or heightened. I assume we sat around the table. I vaguely remember crying uncontrollably at one point but that could be something else. Events and time are being compressed and running congruently.
When my friend Jon L. asked me to join his cast of Our Town, I finally got to see its brilliance. I miss the mundane. Yes, this Thanksgiving will be our first without Jacob. His seat will be empty. Our hearts will feel less full. We will cry and laugh. These I know. It’s not that Jacob will not be there that hurts the most. It’s that on Monday, November 15, at 10:26 he’s not here. It’s not Christmas and Hannukah. I feel his absence on every random Tuesday at 11:11 or a Sunday morning whilst sipping a latte. Every single day is an event. Thanksgiving carries stress of family, cooking, cleaning, prepping and logistics. I think it’s important, though, to go through the motions. Going through the motions of getting up, showering, cooking, cleaning, hugging, laughing, crying, and working give me a chance to keep my body moving when my heart wants to stop. It will follow. Jacob won’t let it stop!