Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It will be our first without Aggie. I've found myself using her as a reference point for pretty much everything this year: first Mother's Day, first of my birthdays, first of her birthdays, and now Thanksgiving. Maybe it's unhealthy, I don't know. It's still, ten months later, amazing to me how so much of it feels like only yesterday.
I wanted to make one of her desserts for dinner this year, but later decided I wasn't ready. At my sister's urging, I took another swing at the attempt and went through her cookbook to try to find one that the family would enjoy and that I could also make gluten free. As I had expected, not even halfway through the cookbook, I was double over in tears. I was right. I'm not ready, but that's okay.
I thought back to how on Thanksgiving a few years ago, Grams made me a pudding pie that I was super into at the time. But this was around the time when she was losing her ability to cook—cookies became way too salty or not enough, ingredients were being replaced or deleted, and we were slowly losing one of the things about her that we loved so much. Grams proudly came over to the table and put a piece of pie in front of me and said that she made it for me because she knew how much I loved it. She stood over me, waiting for me to take that first bite, smile, and let her know she had done a good job.
So I took my first big bite and immediately realized that all of the whipped cream she had homemade on top had gone sour. I did my best to hide the shock, smile, and tell her how much I loved it. I asked my dad to taste it and he confirmed that yep, the cream had gone bad. I asked him not to tell her. But he did. That did two things in my mind: it told her that I lied to her and let her know she hadn't done the great job she had so hoped for. And, I swear, it's these little regrets that just kill you inside.
I don't know why, of all the memories of her cooking and holidays, that's the one that's standing out to me right now. But again, it's okay. It's all part of the process. I can say without a doubt that when it comes to the larger potential things I could look back and say I wish I had done differently—there aren't any. January 30 was a long time coming, so I took the time to tell her how much she always meant to me and how much I loved her. Despite it pretty much fucking destroying me, I stayed with her those last few days, because I know, without a doubt, had it been the other way around, she would have done the same.
Maybe that's why that one memory stands out, to serve as a contrast for the larger things I could be looking back on right now and wishing were different. So, for that, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful.