In the words of Josh Groban, “It’s always this time of year that my thoughts undo me.”
I was listening to Groban’s album “Illuminations.” If you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend it. The line is from his song “The Bells of New York City.” This particular line resonated with me this holiday season. I was listening to this album just before I embarked on my annual trek to Stone Harbor, New Jersey for my family’s biggest holiday extravaganza, Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving, for my family, has become bigger than Christmas, both figuratively and literally. My mom’s side of the family travels down for a 3-4 day family fest. Dinner consists of 3 turkeys, numerous side dishes, and countless pies. The total head count usually comes to around 30+. My favorite part of the holiday, other than the food and family fun, is when we go around the tables and we each express what we are thankful for. The age range of attendees is from 12-68, but each message is the same. Everyone was thankful for each other.
This Thanksgiving was a hard one for all of us. This was the first family holiday without my Uncle Robert, my mother’s only brother. Everyone felt his absence, most especially his two daughters and my aunt. Each one of us mentioned him in our thankful speeches. We all expressed how even though he is not with us, we were thankful for him and for those who could be with us. We sat and reminisced about him. We cried, we laughed, we comforted each other in the way only family can. I was able to spend a lot of time with cousins, which I cherish. I cherish any time I get to spend with them. Cousins are some of your first friends in life and some of the longest lasting friends. But this time that I spent with them involved a lot of reflection. It made me realize how grown up we all are. We are all experiencing the hardships of life, but we get to experience it together. Nobody wants to have to experience death, but when you have such a big support system it makes the hardest life experiences just a little bit easier. I hope I was able to provide a little bit of comfort to my two cousins who were missing their father on our first big event. It’s not easy to know what to say or do, but, I think I have said this before, sometimes all you need to do is listen.
After listening to the Josh Groban song numerous times this holiday season, I kept the line “my thoughts undo me” in the back of my head. I realized, HOW COULD ANOTHER SET OF LYRICS BE MORE PERFECT FOR ME. The last time a lyric hit me like this must have been back in the 90s when TLC crooned they didn’t want “no scrubs.” I’m thankfully well past my scrub days.
The holidays never fail to make me think and reflect on life. There’s something in the air that makes me feel a little more sentimental and grateful this time of year. My thoughts were all over the place during Thanksgiving. I was happy, sad, confused, and even angry. Life’s not easy and unfortunately does not abide by your schedule. Things will happen and we have to get back up, take the next step, and continue to move on.
I feel like I’ve been learning this lesson more often than not since I’ve started writing this blog. Just a couple weeks ago, a very close friend of my father’s passed away, his name was Father George Moore. Father Moore was the closest to a saint that my family will ever meet. My father was an altar server for him when he was a boy and stayed close with him over the years. Father Moore married my parents, baptized my brothers and me, married my three older brothers, and baptized my nephews and niece. Not to mention, he presided over my Uncle Robert’s funeral and many other family funerals. He was the spiritual leader for some of the biggest events in our lives.
The day after Zach and I got engaged, we went to visit Father Moore at the nursing home. We shared our engagement news, which of course he already knew. News travels fast in my family. He knew before most, but he swore to me he kept it a secret! He was so sweet and excited when he saw us, even though it was evident he was in pain. In the weeks leading up to the engagement, Father Moore would often say, “How’s our girl? Any news yet? Everything going well with Zach? When do we get to start planning the big event?” I would blush and say, “Woah, woah. Let’s wait and see.” It was sweet how he knew how much Zach and I cared for one another.
Zach and I sat with him for about a half hour that night, talking of our wedding plans. I had asked him if he would bless us. He blessed my ring and blessed the two of us. We sat in a circle holding hands and praying. Even though we were supposed to have our heads down in prayer, I put my head up and snuck a peek. I looked over at Zach, he was holding my hand tight, his eyes were closed and his head bowed in prayer. I looked at Father Moore. His head was bowed and he was holding both of our hands tight and the words he spoke were so meaningful. It was a beautiful moment for us. After we said our goodbyes, Zach and I walked down the hall to the elevator. We didn’t say much. I began to cry and Zach held me close. It’s a moment I will never forget. We were blessed by a saint.
Father Moore passed away December 20th. His funeral was a wonderful commemoration of a great life. When The Saints Go Marching In was played as the attendees processed out, just as he wanted. There were tears, but there was singing, and dancing. Love was surging through the pews. Even though he will not physically be at our wedding, I know he will be there in spirit.
Like I said above, life does not abide by your schedule. The passing of Father Moore right around Christmas wasn’t the easiest for my family, particularly my dad. But we do what we do best, and we rally together.
There was another change this Christmas, I was not home for it. You might remember in my engagement post, I wrote that I would be going home with Zach for Christmas. It was a wonderful holiday! Of course I missed my family, but it was such an enjoyable time to be with my soon to be second family. I sat in the living room on Christmas morning and looked around me, everyone smiling and opening presents. It felt like home. I am so very grateful to be joining a family who is very similar to my own. No matter who Zach and I spend the holidays with, we will be surrounded by those who love and support us. And no matter the changes we encounter, which will be many, we will make it through just fine with everyone by our side.
3 responses to “My Thoughts Undo Me”
Well, now I’m crying you really touched me…Father M was very special, we all loved him at St Marks. I especially loved when he married my parents….thank you for sharing. I love your writing…..God Bless
Love this, Kate. Another excellent post. It really resonated with me. Thanks for writing!