• Dr. Melissa Baartman Mork

Thanksgiving Without You

Hi Honey,

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving; it’s always been my favorite holiday.

But we just endured a really rough week — with your birthday, Sam’s play wrapping up, end of the school trimester.

Thanksgiving felt more difficult still: sitting down to eat a holiday meal with the chair at the head of the table painfully empty.

Honestly, we were not looking forward to it.

So we decided to go to Todd’s. We stopped at the farm to kiss the horses, and then drove to Wisconsin. Mike and Linda took care of the animals while we were gone. 

I was so anxious as we pulled up to Todd’s house. Piper brought three candles to burn to remember you and your mom and dad. It would just feel so sad. Being around your siblings would remind me too much of you. I didn’t know if I was ready. 

But then we walked in to the kitchen. Your brothers and sister were just so sweet to us! Todd bustled around the kitchen cooking more food than we’d ever need. Harley teased Piper. Todd’s girls blew in with all their fresh blonde beauty and lovely smiles. His grandsons are too cute for words. The teen boys sat downstairs playing video games and trash talking each other. Kelly made her famous cookies just because Piper asked her to. 

And we sat around the table and ate and shared what we’re thankful for. Your name flowed in and out of the conversations.  The candles burned.

The day passed so easily and with so much love.  

I cried as we left Todd’s house.  Not because it was so hard but because it was so good. I didn’t want to leave.

We went to see Cheryl on Friday. Again, it was so much simpler than I had ruminated in my head. Yes, we cried together, but not too much. We discussed the future. We laughed a lot. We talked nonstop for hours, picking up right where we’d left off.

Saturday we were in Milwaukee. We stayed at the same hotel as always. We had breakfast with your aunts and cousins, again surrounded by so much love. Love for us. Love for you.

Holly and Donna were quiet and beautiful. Robin and Kevin were boisterous. Patricia was engaging and funny. Sandy had stories to tell.  Chuck paid for our breakfast.

I hope our visit wasn’t too painful for them, but the kids really needed to see them and I had to show them that we were okay. And they all helped us feel closer to you.

After breakfast our little family went alone to the Brass Rooster on Kinnikinic Ave to buy a hat. 

And we went to the museum. We walked through all the familiar places we’d walked with you. We visited the European Village and looked through the windows. 

We each pushed the button to make the rattlesnake’s tail rattle.

We really missed you. But it was a sweet longing, not a bitter pain.

I had dreaded Thanksgiving. But the dread was unnecessary. 

The act of giving thanks has never been difficult for us. We have so many things for which we are grateful, even in the midst of our grief. We have each other, we have the animals that bring us a lot of joy.  We have good friends and our extended families who are just waiting to step in and care for us as we need it. We have beautiful memories that sustain us. And we have a God who has been more tangibly present in our lives than we’ve ever noticed before. 

We are surrounded with showers of blessings that, if we just turn our attention to them, take our breath away. I am profoundly grateful.

But we still really miss you.

Love, 

Melissa

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”  Samuel 7:16

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