I don’t know if I’m ready to write yet.
Last year’s Thanksgiving was really special. Dave and I hosted both our families for dinner in our tiny basement apartment. Mom, Kelley and the boys were there, along with their dad, and all three of Dave’s grown kids plus a girlfriend. A dozen of us in that tiny apartment with fantastic food followed by a game of catch in the street with a football. It was perfect.
Dave and I broke up two months ago.
When I left for my motorcycle-road-trip-adventure to Newfoundland in July I hoped it would be enough to distract me from how bad things were between us. It really was a wonderful trip, but the truth is I also struggled with feeling lonely, hurt and frustrated. At times it was so overwhelming I wondered if I’d ever stop crying.
Two weeks ago I returned to Ottawa and cleared out of our apartment. Most women don’t wait until they’re 42 before moving in with a boyfriend for the first time. I wish it had turned out differently. I wish we could have fixed it.
I wish I didn’t feel so much.
At times I’ve been tempted to numb the pain, but for better or worse, my emotions are so close to the surface I don’t think it’s even possible to stop feeling them. I read somewhere it takes at least three months to get over the initial grief of a breakup. I’m not there yet, but I think I’ve got it together enough to appreciate the good times that Dave and I had.
I know I have so much to be thankful for; amazing friends and supportive family that I simply can’t thank enough. This Thanksgiving has been hard as my mind keeps returning to how things were just a year ago and to help with that I thought I’d try working out my gratitude muscle and give thanks to one person in particular:
- Thank you for helping to decorate that smoke shack in Barge Landing the night before we left Fort Mac for good. We painted the shack pale yellow and then mounted a dozen plaques on the outside with pictures of the official flowers of each of the provinces and territories… all because I wanted to “make something pretty” before we left northern Alberta.
- Thank you for finding our cute basement apartment while I was away at work. I know you thought it was too small, and it was a definite step down from your house in Bath, but I thought it was perfectly cozy.
- Oh right: Thank you for giving up your house in Bath and moving into our tiny apartment.
- Thank you for all the delicious meals you made, especially the dinners after work. It always amazed me that even after working all day you would still take the time to cook for us, usually while I was plunked in front of the computer or TV. Even better was working late and coming home to you at the stove, putting the finishing touches on whatever smelled so good from more than a block away. I couldn’t believe I was that lucky.
- Thank you for introducing me to your kids and making me feel like I was a part of your family. I’m still embarrassed about our last camping trip and my big freakout-panic-meltdown, but I appreciate how cool they were about it.
- Thank you for the times you were able to hold me and tell me it’ll be ok. I know I didn’t make it easy. I know I got upset about ridiculous things at times, and I know the intensity of my emotions could be overwhelming. I also know it did eventually get to be too much – but I am grateful for all the times you were there for me until you weren’t able to do it anymore.
- Thank you for inviting Mom over for breakfast every Saturday morning. That was awesome. She still thinks you’re awesome.
- Thank you for coming back to Ottawa to see me before I left for Newfoundland. I really didn’t know if you would, and it meant a lot to me that you did.
- Thank you for designing and building Mom’s deck.
- Thank you for designing the memory chest we made for Mom and teaching me how to build it along the way.
- Thank you for climbing on the back of my motorcycle and trusting me enough to drive you around town and on the highway. It gave me a lot more self-confidence about being able to do the trip to Newfoundland by myself.
- Thank you for the patio furniture you left for Mom and the table saw and sander you left for me.
- And finally, thank you for being honest about your feelings and telling me it wasn’t working for you anymore. I didn’t want to hear it, but I know I needed to.
There’s much more I’m thankful for, but I just can’t list them all. The good memories still have the power to hurt, and that’s not how I want to feel about the time we had together.
During our first Valentine’s Day as a couple, driving through the snow storm in Fort Mac, we kept saying how lucky we were that we ran into each other again after Afghanistan, how we found each other in Alberta.
After all that’s happened since then, that’s the feeling I want to hang on to.
How lucky I was to have found you.