I spent the evening cleaning out the pantry & cupboards. Trying to figure out what I have as far as spices/seasonings so that I know what to buy for Thanksgiving. Since J did all the cooking he always bought that kind of stuff and so I had no idea what was up there. It was a bit hard to go through everything knowing that for quite a bit of it he was the last one to touch it.
I can still see him last Thanksgiving cooking like crazy. He would come home from work on Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving and start cooking pies and desserts. The only thing I was allowed to do was the cranberry sauce which had to be made before he came home from work and the stuffing which I prepared in the morning while he was prepping the turkey.. other than that he did everything else.
Often the kids and I would be cleaning the house getting ready for guests while he was cooking and about midnight I would be exhausted and ready for bed and he would still be in the kitchen cooking, a fresh pot of coffee was usually brewing when I finally crawled into bed, falling asleep to the sounds of him clanking around in the kitchen. I always felt guilty about going to bed but he would insist he didn't need help and he enjoyed the quiet of the house as he worked into the early morning hours often not getting any sleep at all. Sometimes he would crawl into bed next to me and hold me for about an hour or two until he was ready to get up again.... many times we would make love during that time...a few quiet moments when we could show our love and thankfulness for each other in the best way possible.
Thanksgiving morning I would often wake up to the sound of Christmas music playing in the kitchen a sign that lack of sleep was making J goofy cause he was often singing along very loudly and very off key, purposely changing the words to make the kids laugh. Often I would look over at my side table and find a hot cup of coffee and a love letter that he would have written to me during the night as he had downtime waiting for things to finish cooking.
I never took him for granted, how can you take for granted a man like that? But I do know that I never would have imagined that last Thanksgiving would have been his last. He wasn't even 50 when he passed away, his dad lived to be over 80 and I always figured he would be around even longer than that.
As I sort through the kitchen it is so obvious that what was once J's kitchen is now mine. I move the things I use the most within my reach and shift the seasonings that he knew what to do with but I find to be a mystery to top shelves where they will no doubt gather dust to be dealt with another day. His knives which he seemed to constantly be sharpening sit in the drawer with no use because I am too sad to use them, so I stick to the every day knives which are dull and useless.
I am nervous about Thanksgiving, I have never cooked a turkey in my life. I have made my menu and grocery list and will go shopping this weekend. I am so afraid I am going to screw everything up, I know it won't be the same so I am not trying to make it the same... I have found my own recipes for things... and I am hoping that the kids will understand that I am trying. I want them to still look forward to holidays, I want to celebrate this day of thanks in a way that would make J happy.
Although he is gone I have so much to be thankful for, my beautiful children, our warm and cozy home and the memories of a man who loved me more than I ever imagined I could be loved. He was kind and thoughtful and giving and I was extremely blessed to have been his wife.