First Thanksgiving I've ever spent alone. And therefore so perfectly weird.
Baked myself a ham and biscuits, boiled corn, and put aside a huge sweet potato that was undercooked and inedible as a result. Finished still hungry yet unable or unwilling to go on eating.
Cried on and off thinking about my mom and The Ex, how it was when we were still together, when mom was healthy and happy, when life was everything I thought I could want. As we'd often say, mimicking Richard Pryor right down to his sloping posture and outstretched arms, "We cool, we cool."
And I thought about James. After dinner I went and re-read some of his stuff and some stuff about him (not from FG, another site).
This was the only Thanksgiving dinner I ever ate that 1) my mom didn't cook that 2) I cooked but shared with no one else, because no one else alive is close enough with me to eat it.
The last T-dinner I cooked was in 2002, shortly after my mom threw me out and I had to go live with my Ex, who, miserably enough, was also my Ex at the time. I bought the food and cooked and fed him and his son and his daughter and it was pretty nice in between all my sobbing sessions because I thought I would die unless my mother spoke to me again. Fortunately my Ex turned violent not long after - not very violent - just violent enough that my mother relented and let me know through a mutual friend of ours that I could come back home.
I think 2002-2007 were the happiest years of my life because because she took me back; my erroneous ways were forgiven and eventually both me and mom found it within ourselves to forgive most of the harm my Ex had done after he spent a few years campaigning to win my heart back.
By 2005 I had a good job, the only man I'd thought I really loved, my mother, the best and craziest cat(s) on Earth, and we had our home.
Then the House of Cards fell: it was 2008 and my Ex and I were on the fritz - again - then I either quit or lost my job (probably both; I had to quit because they would not keep me because wow, I was completely falling apart), then we got our house of eight years stolen by someone we trusted and wound up both living with my Ex, which predictably enough was a disaster, and mom got sick that winter with the (still-undiagnosed) cancer that eventually killed her.
Funny thing - not as in ha-ha funny, but as in horrifyingly awful - is you'd probably say, "OK, bad year, but I'd bet the next one gets better." But the next one didn't get better. Neither did the one after. Nor the one after that. Nor this year. It just got worse. A quick rundown:.
2009: mom clearly has cancer but won't admit it, I can't hold any job so I hold many because I'm so fucked in the head over the state of my Ex and my mother that my Anger Issues are clearly destroying me, so we bounce between my Ex and other places I can only barely afford until I need another job, which is fairly often compared to Normal People.
2010: Rinse and repeat, only now mom admits she has - and is finally admitted to the hospital for - cancer. More bouncing back and forth between my Ex and any home I can afford. Then the Ex takes me in as an emotional hostage after my mom goes to the hospital for surgery, in another edition of While the Cat is Away the Mouse Will Play starring my mom as Cat and my Ex as Mouse. Winnie - our favorite cat, a sweet Persian we had for over five years - loses his home as a result, and I almost lose my fucking mind. I wind up taking out most of my anger at this hideous state of affairs on - James. Yeah, I know. But at the time I'm pretty sure he'd put a pox on me that ruined my fucking life.
2011: Mom says she feels better, and for once I can hold a job for more than a few weeks without spazzing out or losing it, even get promoted. In hindsight, probably the
best most uneventful year since 2008, because my income and place of work remain steady and/or growing until that August (when I get into a fight with a cashier who I supervise after she tells me she wants my job and I have to leave over it - and she gets my job!) but the Ex remains rather blissfully MIA and I meet Ray that November - and without him my life would have fallen apart about six months later - but this year ends on a horrible note because mom tells me she's sick again with cancer and has only two months left to live.
2012: Mom says she feels better - again - and I can hold a job for more than a few weeks - again. Of course none of this will last. My mom's health rapidly declines in mid-March so I start skipping out on work to the point that I earn a bad rep for leaving early every single shift and/or giving away shifts like I'll catch the Black Plague if I work too much. I was spending every last minute with my mom before she died, and I didn't care how they got on me for it or what it cost as long as the rent got paid (and I was again a waitress, so it cost little; I could work less than 30 hours a week and still pay the rent).
Then mom died. I couldn't afford to bury her ashes or even have her cremated right away so it just tore me up. A few months later I quit the job I held through her death (despite an extended leave of absence in order to partially die along with her at Hospice) because my boss had picked on me - again - over nothing one fine afternoon, and life was too short to keep letting her. I think quitting was the only way I could express how much I also wanted to die.
Summer 2012: Had to leave the house mom and I spent the last two years of her life in after I blew through the last of our savings and still couldn't find another job. Moved in with Ray at his repeated behest, only to have him decide the same day that he was no longer in love with me. Some part of me will always hate him for that. Got another job but hated it and therefore lost it a few months later.
Fall 2012: Left Ray and got another place. Got another job but lost the place (though I'm still in it, but probably not for long) because I can't stand the landlord and being me, I can't hide that fact. Cooked and ate Thanksgiving dinner alone for the first time in my life, cleaned up and sat down to write this.
I've spoken before about having a fake Facebook account to look at my Ex's profile. I only check it maybe once every one or two months because he doesn't post much (he told me this summer he's recovering from a prescription pill addiction he acquired in the last year or two, which may or may not be one reason). But in the last three or four pictures he or his family's posted of him, he looks thin, drawn, haunted, and the light in his eyes - the spark - is gone.
Sometimes...just sometimes...I wonder if it's because of me. I wonder if that pool of sadness in his eyes is where he still remembers us; if he, like me, looks back on those few years when none of us could complain because we really did seem to have it all.
I wonder if he wishes for it now, like I do.
And I wonder - a lot - about my mom. A few minutes after she died I was sitting in a chair across from her bed staring at her, feeling shocked, empty and betrayed at her leaving me, which is an irrational, stupid and perfectly understandable thing to feel, when I heard a voice. Not just any voice, but one that boomed out, "Your mom has a message for you."
I just kept staring. "She says: "There is a god! And I love you. And..." and you know, for days, even months after she died, I could clearly remember the third thing she said. But I can't remember now, and I don't know that it matters anymore.
But this morning, when I woke in a slurry of tears and screaming in my head as I sometimes do, when all I could reduce my pain down to was one word: "Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom" she answered. Directly. For the first time that I can clearly say so since the day she died.
It was a little calmer and clearer than her real-life voice, but it was her. She said, "I am here...I am here." After thinking that over for a while I calmed down, ever so slightly.
But the thing is I don't want to be "here", where I can't touch her, talk to her, feel her presence and look into her eyes. I want to be there because she can't really ever be "here" again.
Sometimes I think it's OK to decide, after looking life over, that it's not the same at some point and can't ever be again. I think it's OK in the face of that to not want to go on. It's not selfish, it's not an illness, it's not a problem to be solved, it's not an attitude to be changed. It's simply an acknowledgement of reality, a reflection of your spirit that comes from knowing what you want is exactly what you won't ever have again.