Last Thanksgiving, we were on a plane headed to the stunning island of Maui (the trip is documented here and here). Although I never imagined such a thing could be possible beforehand, the beauty of the island was the perfect balm to my heart that had so recently been shattered. The tranquil trade winds, the gentle roar of the waves crashing against rock and sand, the thundering waterfalls that flowed so forcefully, the colorful rainbows that constantly reached across the sky, and about a million other things that make the island so idyllic, blended into the perfect recipe for a grief-stricken soul.
This year, we re-joined the usual Thanksgiving traditions of a big dinner with family yesterday, followed by Black Friday shopping in the wee hours of this morning. Last year, tears were always brewing below the surface, and I was in no mood for holiday festivities. My grief controlled me more than I controlled it. This year, while grief continues to occasionally take my breath away in the most unexpected of moments, it mostly remains contained until and unless I allow its presence to consume me. Sometimes I need to feel that pain, as it is the biggest reminder that my daughter was real. That she lived. That I gave birth to her and held her in my arms. That I looked into her eyes for the briefest, yet most meaningful of moments.
Of course, even when I am not in a place of deep, uncontrollable sadness, I still miss Madelyn terribly. I always will. But this year I am mostly adjusted to this new life. And I have reclaimed the happiness that departed when she left this world. It is a changed happiness, but it is enough for now. And for that, I am thankful.