War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

thanksgiving dinner

Saltspring Island. land of fresh roasted coffee beans. blue water. stands of cedars, firs. dreadlocks. the push pull of the rich and the old guard back-to-the-landers and their offspring. condos and cabins. Mercs and VWs (still).

a guest comes to the dinner table all the way from the southern hemisphere. New Zealander. young. full of life. so full of life. willing to eat cranberries, oysters and corn, pumpkin pie for the first time. wanting to experience something called Thanksgiving.

and at the table we raise a glass. toast all of us at the table. then we toast our two who left this earth three years ago. aged 26, 31. forever the empty place settings at our table. for our young ones who died out of the natural order of things. and of course we cry.

someone who once was close to me, said to me last year, “I think you’ve overdone the grief thing” , referring to how I responded to the death of our young ones. this is a remark that stuns me still. for how we grieve, the depth of it, is a measure of the size of our hearts. and to accuse someone of grieving falsely or too heavily is nothing short of cruel. especially grieving for a young one. because one grieves not just the person we knew, but also what they might have become. all the memories yet to be that will never happen.

ultimately nobody has a right to tell anyone else how to grieve. nor judge someone
else’s grief. this is erasure. devaluation of another’s human spirit. censure.

and there is no moving on. that’s bullshit. the death of a loved one. the death of a longterm relationship. is death. period. and one learns to live with it. but life is not a neat book of chapters or doors opening or closing, no matter how many self-help books out there espouse this facile view of life.

and at the table the young New Zealander told us that his sister lost her beloved in Afghanistan a few months ago. a young officer of 26. and the young girl was taking it very badly though she’d only been with the young soldier a short while.

I said to him that when one knows one is going to war, time accelerates, and weirdly stretches at the same time. emotions are bigger, much, much bigger, when one faces the possibility of death. in the Second World War people met, got close very fast, and married in a matter of weeks knowing that a few weeks together might be their only chance at living that life. I suspect this war might be no different.

and I said to the New Zealander that though the girl will probably one day find someone else and marry, there will always be in the back of her mind the what might have been had her soldier come home alive.


1 Comment (Closed)

Anne Snyder

Poignant, beautiful and oh sooo true. No one ever moves on…

Oct 21 2010 · 12:50

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled thanksgiving dinner. It was posted here on October 11, 2010.

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