On The Importance of Roses

I intentionally didn’t want to write this post before Thanksgiving because I wanted to spend my time being present. I decided to not long onto social media and not to post anything about my Thanksgiving festivities. I wanted to revel in the immediacy of what the holiday means. Thanksgiving is a holiday that used to be a centralized holiday in my family. Then life happened.

As I drove to the Bronx last night to hang out with my cousin and her family, this song came up in my shuffle. Interestingly enough, the song before it was Method Man and Mary J. Blige’s rendition of “You’re All I Need”. I bobbed and rapped along, for the first time in long time, truly connecting with the words ‘Ye was saying. I knew Ye’s feeling and this was a night I hadn’t felt this close to my family in a long time.

Before Thanksgiving 2014, I had spent the last 4 Thanksgivings feeling disconnected, disengaged, and disappointed. For example, last year, I spent Thanksgiving in my apartment. After getting off those personalized text messages, I told my girl I was turning my phone off and that I needed space. Thanksgiving 3 years ago wasn’t even acknowledged because my younger sister had passed just 10 days prior. I’m never the type who’s a holiday grinch or who will purposely mope and be an asshole to others who are excited. The people close to me got to a point where they expected me to fade to black and they understood the reasoning behind it. I wanted this year to be the start of something different though.

I arrived in Brooklyn with optimism and excitement. I wanted this to be a great celebration for everyone, especially my mom. I helped my Tias do some basic prep and wound up getting sent out for last minute errands because women always forget something. As I started mixing up the coquito, I could hear my Tias and my mom gossiping and joking like I remembered. Every few minutes, I’d hear the doorbell and then people shouting holiday pleasantries. By the time we got ready to sit down, I surveyed around the room. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was happy to be there. We did the traditional roundtable “what I’m thankful for”. My cousins, their +1, and my tias all had something great to say. My mom was seated next to me. When it was her turn, she said something that struck me as odd; “I’m thankful for the hard times, the good times, and the faith to appreciate both.” When the room’s attention turned me to me, it was hard not to get a little choked up.

My mother was released from the hospital last week after a harsh round of chemotherapy. She was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer which quickly spread to her lymph nodes and was categorized as stage III. With all that she’s been through, I look at her often in awe that she’s still standing. For this Thanksgiving, I was simply blessed to be in the same room with most of my family. I felt thankful to have my mother still here and still encouraged that she will beat this.

As a person in a LDR, you often feel conflicted about where to spend your holidays. In most occassions, you’ll wind up alternating holidays or at least splitting up the time spent with your families. Even surrounded by family and friends, I felt that all-too-familiar disconnection. There are some types of loneliness that aren’t filled by anything else but that person. I missed her. She missed me. We both missed our brothers, who were also away from home for the holiday. However, we had each other in a meaningful way. And that meant the world to me on a day that is a constant reminder of what I don’t have.

I woke up today with a different outlook on Thanksgiving. Not only is it a day to be thankful for what you have, it’s a moment to honor those that mean the most while they’re still here. I’m thankful to see my roses.

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