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The Healing Power of a Loving Family Why Recent Losses Make Me Grateful for Those We Still Have
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W hen life throws you a curveball, it’s nice to have a loving, supportive team in your corner. I won’t lie; the year has been difficult for my family in many ways. We’ll celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas without two of the most important people in our lives. But, I can’t shake this profound sense of gratitude for the people who helped us get through it. We lost my mother-in-law in February. It was hard for me to say goodbye, but even harder for my son, Robbie, and, of course, my wife. Six months later, my father passed away. So this holiday season will be the first without the matriarch of my wife’s family and the patriarch of mine. The warm embrace of family is like a healing balm. There’s something about the mutual love you have for the deceased, and for each other, that assuages the loss more than anything else can.You’re reminded of what’s really important, and that’s family.There’s nothing I’m more thankful for this Thanksgiving than them. It’s our turn to spend Thanksgiving with my side of the family. Both my wife’s parents are deceased, so we’ll probably invite her youngest sister (who lives in Raleigh) to celebrate with us. We’ll get together at my youngest sister’s house and enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner with nieces, nephews, and my mother. It’s a big crowd, with a big meal to match. The Bollingers roast turkey and cook the stuffing in a sheet pan so it’s crispy on top. My wife’s family stuffs the turkey. My family gets along wonderfully, as does my wife’s. It’s free of conflict, which is kind of rare for most family gatherings. It’s like being in a little family cocoon; everyone is protected from the life’s problems when they’re with the people who know and love them best. After the best meal of the year, we’ll hang out together, share memories, and laugh.The laughter will flow freely, and the football game will be on.The whole event will be bittersweet with the absence of Dad.We’ve never had a
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Thanksgiving without him. But a family is like the human body.The ability it has to heal itself is nothing short of miraculous. Not all loved ones are related by blood, though.All year, my wife and I have been the recipients of wonderful friends who cared enough to reach out and perform acts of kindness for us in our most difficult times.We will be thinking of those dear friends at Thanksgiving too. As we enter this holiday season, regardless of what divides us, I hope we can all agree that family is everything. It’s true in times of loss, as well as in times of happiness. I have so much to be grateful for, but it’s the people in my life that make the biggest difference. I’ll be pondering that as I bite into a delicious slice of Thanksgiving turkey.
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