Thursday, November 27, 2008



(Edited repeat of a Thanksgiving email to members of my grief-research support group in 2006.)

I've just begun the Joan Didion book, The Year of Magical Thinking. Even though I've barely started, it resonates with me already. I had been reading David Fromkin's book Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914 (subject of one of their last conversations) about the same time that Joan's husband had his cardiac arrest, and for some reason it's one of the books I have on a pile to continue some day, but so far have not. And my Australian lawyer friend, Jeffrey (who stayed with me for a few months at the start of our sessions and will return in a few weeks for a few days before his return to Brisbane) had been an actor in London in the late '70's and early 80's and had had a role in the first episode of the BBC production Tenko, remembered fondly by Joan Didion. Jeffrey played a British officer, who befriended an attractive young Eurasian woman- a curious world of connections.

My last message was rather cursory, for which I apologize. I HAVE been busy, but wanted to communicate in some fashion just to say hello. It's strange though, I wrote that message early in the morning after a restless night, when I woke up a little after 4:00 a.m. I was restless and agitated without knowing why. Later I realized that it was seven months to the day after Dennis' death. He had died a little after 5:00. But the time had changed in the middle of that night, so it really had been a little after 4:00 a.m. It's amazing how the subconscious mind works and remembers!

This Thanksgiving will be the first in many years that I haven't spent the Wednesday night before cleaning cracked crab for Dennis to make his marvelous crab cakes. It traditionally was the first course at Thanksgiving dinner with a table full of friends. My job was just to prepare the crab. I'd clean my hands very thoroughly and sort the crab at least five times. After the third sort I'd think I was done, but then I'd always find a few tiny shards of shells and give it one more sort and inevitably find one more. You need bare fingers to feel it. Then Rose and Rupert would get to lick my fingers. It was a special treat for them. For many years we had Thanksgiving dinner at our friend Deb's place. We'd return the favor at Christmas. Last year Dennis just wasn't up to hosting dinner at home so we had dinner both times at Debbie's. Next Thursday I'll return to Deb’s with my sister Julie and brother-in-law Tom from New Jersey on their way to Hawaii. I'll bring some wine and two carving sets. Dennis had always sat opposite Deb and carved the turkey. Tom or I may do it this year. I've asked Debbie to come back to my place for Christmas. No doubt she'll help out. She makes amazing salads.

The last time Dennis had dinner with friends in our dining room was just after his elaborate liturgy of last rites the week before he died. Joan from Seattle came down. My nephew Matt was in town. Deb of course, was there. And our priest friend, David Sheetz, performed the most amazing service based on various traditions. Afterwards we had a formal dinner. Dennis had especially wanted cracked crab and roasted asparagus. He sat in his wheel chair at the head of the table and conducted the conversation in his own masterful, ironic style.

Even though I won't be making crab cakes this year, I thought I'd get a cooked whole crab for dinner this Wednesday. Then Rose and Rupert can again enjoy licking my fingers. At least one-half of a tradition will be maintained.

Tonight to the Opera; tomorrow, the Symphony; Sunday, dinner with friends; Monday, taking friends to dinner; Tuesday, ACT; Wednesday, cracked crab at home with the Cavaliers.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving. As difficult as it seems at times, we all have a great deal for which to be thankful. I certainly am for you.


This year–2008—I’m returning to Deb’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve invited my cousin Clae and friend Juling from Starbucks. Tom and Julie invited me to go to dinner in New Jersey, but I don’t have the time or money to get away. I almost always work the Friday after Thanksgiving. Having been in retail for many years, the last thing in the world I would want to do is to go shopping at Union Square on Black Friday. I would just as soon go to my regular job and allow others to have the day off.

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