Tradition has been a huge part of my family over the several years since I have moved out here in Port Alsworth. We of course do our tradition of watching Home Alone 2 together each year at midnight my time. This has been to include me in family time with everyone back on the east coast. It’s always been full of laughter and such joyous memories. For the past 2 years Kyle has been apart of this tradition. I know tradition can change. Going through the first seems to be the hardest but I know this will get easier. The gaping hole will begin to be filled in. A new normal tradition will be kept and we will watch Home Alone 2 again this year. We will get our candy canes, eggnog, Christmas tree, and every other Christmas movie we can find to watch. I look forward to it yet I dread it. Mom is here with me and for that I am beyond thankful for her. It will be strange to not have Kyle here but I know that it is becoming more of a norm now and I want to embrace all the feelings and new normal in my life.
This year for Thanksgiving I will go play football like I always have. I will hang out with friends. I will enjoy the moments with my mom. I will still watch Home Alone with my family. I will put up the Christmas lights Kyle bought last year he surprised me with. I will remember the time we spent last year together. I will be Thankful for all the many blessings the Lord has lavished upon my life.
However, it’s hard to not acknowledge the empty holes I feel. There won’t be a man to tackle during 2-hand touch football ;) There won’t be my favorite man to throw me a touchdown like last year. There won’t be bickering with Scott and trash talking each other (in the most friendly way possible.) There won’t be Zach to be silly and joke around with. There won’t be a Kaitlin to laugh and play games with. I look back at last year and I distinctly remember spending quality time with Kaitlin, Josh, Kyle, and myself playing a drawing game for over an hour. Zach came to join in and we all laughed so hard that day. I held Kyle’s hand as we all stood in the Blom’s house going around sharing one thing we were thankful for before we prayed. We prayed and sat down to eat. It just felt so right and absolutely amazing to have each other. It was family. Kyle and I were family even if there wasn’t a piece of paper to prove it. We truly loved each other and we were excited to share it with those around us. I am thankful for the Bloms and how they opened their home to the teachers each year. It was a beautiful Thanksgiving. It was one for the books. It just means this year is going to look different.
None of us had any idea of what was going to happen 2 weeks from then. I know that I would not have changed a thing though. There is just a big hole and I am feeling it. This season has many ups and downs not only for me but also for so many other people. I know that I am not alone. I know these next two weeks are going to be some of the hardest for me. I am trying to brace for it, take it head on, yet here I am trying to avoid it all at the same time. I don’t want it to be. I don’t want my friends that became family to not be here. I don’t like the fact that I am not married and this would have been our first Thanksgiving and Christmas together. These holidays have always been joyous, happy, and relaxing for me. I just know that this year will be different and that is not bad, it just means it is different.
As I sit here in my classroom with everyone gone to be with family and friends for the holidays, I avoid going home. I honestly do not want to go anywhere for that matter because frankly Kyle isn’t anywhere I am or will be going. It has been an emotional last 2 weeks for my students, my friends, and I just have had grief loom over my head. Am I to grieve my own grief? How can I do that when I care so deeply about the people around me who are hurting too? I don’t try to carry all of their burdens but it sure hurts when others hurt. I have found myself encouraging others who have lost loved ones. I hug them in the similar way I have been comforted and encouraged last year. They carry around memories, pain, grief, and loss with them now too. It has become more real in their world than it ever has been before.
I look back and I see all the people, memories, and events that have transpired. I am filled with thankfulness. I see how the Lord has sustained me even when I have no words to say and have little energy to expend. He has been faithful countless times. He has loved me unconditionally. He has fought my battles when I have been weak. He has forgiven me in my anger. He has never failed me. I just can’t make sense of what is going on around me or in front of me. I continue to put one foot in front of the other trusting that He will direct my step each time. I recently wrote to my friend that I couldn’t even imagine the pain God felt when He watched His Son die on a cross. God watched as Jesus was beaten, abused, mocked, and treated like dirt when He was sinless. ALL FOR ME AND ALL FOR YOU! For everyone that has walked, is walking, and will ever walk this Earth. Seems pretty insane to me, yet I am beyond thankful because I will know only then will I truly experience the purest of love. I will be able to see Kyle, Scott, Kaitlin, and Zach again. I will see my Savior face to face where I can truly thank Him. Oh man, will that be the day or what? All is not lost. There is hope and my future is secured through Christ my Lord and Savior.
I was reading one of my devotionals this afternoon and it mentioned that thankfulness is not just a seasonal type thing. It is a way to live life with thanksgiving in your heart and sincerity in our heart while expressing such thanks. May the Lord work in me that I will one day live my life this way. For all of this, even the pain, grief, and loss, I am thankful. I bid you all a Happy Thanksgiving as you embrace those around you.