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This One Is Hard To Write.

Disclaimer: this isn't a happy post. But it's one I need to get off of my chest. My hope in sharing this with you is that you make the most of every day you have with family- Thanksgiving Day and every day.

This is very, very, very hard for me to admit- I am not a fan of Thanksgiving.

Actually, scratch that. I'll say exactly how I feel- I do NOT like Thanksgiving.

Now don't go judging me right off the bat and think I'm an ungrateful, heartless person. I am thankful for my life and the people in it *every single day*, and grateful for all I have. But Thanksgiving means something very different to me than it does to most people.

Most people anticipate the 4th Thursday in November with excitement and appreciation... Planning menus, making travel plans to reunite with family, knowing that all the orange and yellow fall decor will soon be ushered out and replaced with twinking lights and Christmas trees and packages wrapped with paper.

I? Get a knot in the pit of my stomach. Followed by a tightening in my chest as that 4th week on the calendar arrives. When people ask me what my Thanksgiving plans are? My hands get clammy and my body starts to feel flush. Thoughts of large, bustling, family-filled dining rooms overwhelm me greatly. The day before Thanksgiving? There is a lump in my throat that will not budge. This warm, happy, love-filled holiday has been transformed for me, and as hard as I try I've never been able to look at it the same.

12 years ago this sleepy 16 year old crawled out of bed in her second floor bedroom and headed to the staircase, ready to begin the long-standing Thanksgiving tradition routine. Morning coffee. A warm blanket on the couch. Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on the TV, with the volume turned extra high to drown out the cooking sounds from mom in the kitchen.

But as I sleepily made my way down the staircase, I stopped halfway- there were no chipper cooking sounds coming from the kitchen. Only sobbing.

Something is wrong. Something is very wrong.

"They're gone." My mother said simply. "The Foleys are gone."

What do you mean 'The Foleys are gone'? I thought with confusion. How does a family of 4 just disappear?

"They went to their tract of hunting land in Kansas for Thanksgiving, and were staying in the mobile home they'd put on the property. There was a fire last night, honey... Nobody survived. I'm so sorry."

Nobody survived.

Jim and Donna- My parents' very best friends, close since childhood. My godparents.
James ("Jimbo") and Joseph ("Connor")- My godbrothers, ages 13 and 9.
Their 2 hunting dogs.

All gone.

We found out that the the barbecue smoker on the back deck, containing the Thanksgiving turkey, somehow knocked over in the night... I remember someone saying that the back deck has been recently re-sealed, and so the fresh chemicals took quickly to flame. The fire consumed the trailer. And since they were in the middle of a patch of private land, nobody was around to stop it. The scene wasn't discovered until early the next morning, when a farmer on nearby land saw a faint trail of smoke in the distance and went to investigate.

The rest of Thanksgiving that day went on just as planned, in theory. Food was cooked, family arrived for dinner. But needless to say, there was nothing jovial about the scene. Everyone was numb, robotic. The spirited political debates that were a mainstay of the holiday dinner table had been replaced with discussions of when we were going to pack up and head to Kansas to help prepare for the wake and the funeral.

I just remember thinking over and over again - "How am I'm supposed to be thankful for THIS?!"

There was a long, weary roadtrip from Colorado to my parents' hometown in Kansas. A traditional wake held in the home of my godfather's parents- a stately victorian mansion in the center of town, gorgeously decorated inside but now holding a jarring addition- 2 coffins in the living room. My godparents in one, godbrothers in another.

Funeral. Burial. The long car ride home. An attempt to pick up the pieces.

I know that Thanksgiving is used as a time to verbalize your appreciation for friends, family, and the gifts God has given you. But I can't help but also think of the gifts God has taken away on this day.

I'll still be celebrating this year, mind you, but in the way I feel most comfortable- a day full of mind-distracting cooking (and wine), followed by a casual late-afternoon dinner of turkey, Tofurkey, and all the trimmings. Just my husband and I, in our PJs. Followed by 364 more days of being thankful for everything in my life.
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Muffy said...

How sad. Is it terrible I'm glad they were together at least? Imagine being the sole survivor of something like that? Now they are together in heaven-- together always. Thank you for sharing.

legallymarried said...

Oh my....I'm sorry for your loss. I know that would be nearly impossible to get over.

Sending you good wishes for at least a serene Thanksgiving.

Miss Muddy Paws said...

How sad. I'll be thinking of you this Thanksgiving. I am so sorry for your loss - that is truly tragic.

Worthington said...

I am thinking of you. It has to be so hard. I cannot fully relate, but my own share of tragedies make me understand why your heart hurts still. Sending positive thoughts. Hugs.

Mrs. Jetplane said...

Its very sad and totally understandable how such an event could make you no longer like Thanksgiving. I think everyone has events or places that you no longer "like" something for the simple fact that it reminds you of something you don't want to relive or think about. Thank you for sharing this with us, I'm sure its very difficult to write about. Sending love and good thoughts out to you on this holiday week.

The 2 coffins made me tear up. A married couple that I went to college with were unfortunately murdered several years ago. The one last statement of their undying love for each other, was he was holding her urn of ashes in his casket. It was truly heartbreaking but you know that she is laying in his arms forever.

Perfectly Imperfect said...

How horrible. I am so, so sorry you went through all of that. We just lost a family friend a few days ago. While I'm getting ready to head out of town for a few days, I'm heartbroken over the fact that this man's family will be trying to survive the holidays without him. It's hard to understand why things like this happen.

But they do. And I guess what I'm most thankful for this year is that I'm alive to spend the time with my daughter and husband. I thank God for that opportunity when so many others can't.

I hope you enjoy the day with your husband. =)

sweethomeamy said...

Oh my gosh, so sorry. That is such an awful thing to happen. I truly hope you can have a relaxing holiday! Lots of hugs!! xoxox

Nina @ said...

My dear sweet Lulu. Thank you for sharing your honest, heartfelt words. How could you ever look at Thanksgiving the same or how could anyone expect you too? I'm so sorry for the giant loss of such wonderful, special people to you. You are always in my thoughts but you'll be extra close in my heart tomorrow. Love and miss you a ton! xoxo

BLC :o said...

Bless your heart!!! I will be praying for you and yours over this Thanksgiving weekend. My sister's godfather was aboard the plane that "splash" landed into the Hudson. I will never forget how it jolted my entire family (and theirs too). Wishing you peace this Thanksgiving holiday. Xoxo-BLC

CBD said...

That is sad and I understand why that would make you not look forward to Thanksgiving. You feel what you feel and that's okay. Don't let anyone ever make you feel differently.

Suz said...

Oh I'm so sorry! And that is so understandable why you wouldn't look forward to the holiday. You're very brave to share this and I hope all the kind words help, even a little bit.

Miss Type-A said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Thinking about you!

Jane said...

I'm so sorry. So so sorry.

Landlocked Mermaid said...

Oh My Sweet LuLu.. Anniversaries are so hard.. and pair that with a holiday and they are never the same. I pray that each year your heart gets stronger and your memories sustain you. love you , sweet one xo

Mrs. Classic said...

I'm sorry, that has to be such a sad day for you.

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