A Year of Firsts – Thanksgiving

It’s the day before Thanksgiving.

Last year, my brother Matt joined me for Thanksgiving at my in-law’s house.

Matt was always uncomfortable in unfamiliar environments, but he came. That was HUGE. I was so impressed at how upbeat he appeared. He chatted with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. He ate a lot and helped with the dishes, as he was always very polite and considerate.

After dinner, he sat with me in one of the spare bedrooms as I tried to get the baby to take a nap. We talked about how he was feeling. I had been worried about him. Matt had told me a few weeks prior that he was feeling very dark and how he had started seeing a new therapist in order to get back on antidepressants. I had reached out to a few of his close friends, asked them to “keep an eye on him” and to “check in on him.” I was not as available as I usually had been. My time was consumed with a newborn baby and lack of sleep.

Picking up on my concern, Matt set me at ease by telling me that he liked his new therapist and that they had just upped his meds. He assured me that he was feeling better. After we talked, he thanked everyone and left for work at the bar.

I had no idea Matt was hiding a dark secret – even from me.
I had no idea Matt had made a suicide attempt just a week prior.
I had no idea this Thanksgiving would be the last I would ever spend with my brother.

I wouldn’t find that out until later.

This will be the first Thanksgiving without Matt here. I can’t say that every Thanksgiving before Matt died was perfect. Nor can I say that every Thanksgiving before Matt died was spent together. But this is the first year Matt is not here – like really not here. There will be no “Well, maybe next year we can have it at your place,” or “Maybe next year you can show me how to make the spinach dip.”

Some days I wonder if he came to Thanksgiving at my in-law’s house and put himself through being uncomfortable in an unfamiliar situation, because he knew it was his last. I don’t know. I try not to over think it. Who am I kidding? I do over-think it.

As you are rushing around, getting last minute groceries and prepping for the onslaught of food and family members, try to take a moment to breathe. Remember why you are standing in long grocery checkout line and cradling a huge frozen bird. Remember what the day is about: Coming together, being thankful for the food on the table and the togetherness that the day brings. Leave the arguments and politics at the door, people. Those are simply not worth it. Enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Eat well, live well and love much!

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