I am truly thankful for this Thanksgiving. Yesterday was the 3rd Thanksgiving Day without Walter. The first year was so painful because our friends who had made a tradition of having Thanksgiving with us for more than 10 years opted not to come that year and shared the day with another family instead. I was so hurt because I really wanted them to come so that I could pretend that everything could still be normal and because I needed their support. My friend wanted to come but she was out voted by the rest of her family. They really didn't think about me being hurt, they just couldn't bear to come over and deal with Walter not being there. It was too painful for them. OK. So, we invited another family, a young family who are friends with my daughter and we still had a nice day. I got through it, but it made me realize that my life had changed even more than I knew because some people no longer saw me the same way. It hurt, but it let me know that I could not depend on other people to help me through this. I had to get the strength I needed from the Lord and from myself. People have their own lives and I have mine. The second year I decided it could just be our little family for Thanksgiving because I didn't want to stress thinking about who would want to accept our invitation or not, and it worked out well so I decided that just family would be our new traditon. My son didn't invite a date this year, but my goddaughter decided to come and we love having her whenever she's in town. My son-in-law's mother just moved to California in April, so I invited her to join us and she accepted. My daughter came over at 8am to help with the turkey, dressing, greens and yams. I had cooked some food the night before. She brought Ashara, who is almost 3 years old, with her and we let her "help" us by helping wash the greens and crumble the bread for the dressing. She had a wonderful time and we decided that this was a new tradition and in a couple of years little Zaria would be helping too. Thanksgiving dinner was nice and we could mention Walter's name without anyone getting uncomfortable. We ate, we laughed, the kids played, we watched football (because of my son-in-law), we fell asleep, we woke up and had seconds; and I had a wonderful day with my family until everyone left loaded up with their tupperware for left-overs at 8:30pm.
This morning I woke up and thought about Walter. I didn't cry this time, I smiled. I told him that yesterday was the best Thanksgiving I'd had since he went to heaven and that our family is not only growing in size, but, we are closer as a family and we look after one another because of him and the example of love that he left us. I think losing someone can do that sometimes. I told him that I never hear from his family, my in-laws anymore, even though I still try to send them a card and pictures of the grandbabies, but they have moved on, and I'm OK with that. It was obvious that they only loved me because I loved him. I went on a 45 minute walk with my daughter this afternoon and we talked about what a good day yesterday was. We talked about life, we talked about our family and the love we have for each other. I opened my mail today and there was a check in it that someone sent for the Walter F. Burnett, Jr Memorial Scholarship. I was so excited that people are still donating in his memory. I cried when I saw the amount of the check and I thought about the student who would be blessed next year by the scholarship award. And, I thought of you, my love. So, I am living my life. I'm not dating anyone, nor do I desire to at this point, maybe I never will. I'm not a believer that dating is equated with how far along you are in the healing process. I'm not convinced that total healing is ever going to happen if that means that I won't think about or love you anymore. But now after 34 months of living without you, I can truly say that I am really living again. I think you would be proud of that because you always admired strength. I'm involved in the ministries at church that I love, the choir and teaching the new members orientation, and volunteering for the homeless scantuary program. And I'm writing Plays again. I have true friends who invite me to lunch or a get-together sometimes. And tonight I've decided to go to a movie, alone, and I'm OK with that too. And although I don't take a step each day without missing you, it's the day after Thanksgiving 2011 and I am truly thankful.