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Above: Thanksgiving 2011, what was to be our last one with Keith (deep frying the turkey). We deep fried a turkey this year, our best one yet, in Keith’s honor. Missed him terribly. But celebrated our family, too. He’ll always be a part of our lives, for which I am forever grateful.
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During this holiday season, it is too easy to fall into despair and self-pity. Missing Keith brings me to tears, crying myself to sleep at night. But I have much to be thankful for in spite of our loss.

Unfairness in life is all around us. It’s what we call it when we are frustrated, angry, despairing over what life has thrown at us. How unfair is it that Keith’s life was cut so short? How unfair is it that I would spend this holiday knowing I will never have another holiday with him, or to hear his laughter, feel his embrace? My best friend, husband, loving father… How unfair is it that I spend each night alone?

Do you see how easy it is to fall into self pity? Yes, there are times when I indulge in it. There are times when I cannot fight the ache in my heart and therefore feel the overwhelming pressure of the waters that must flood their banks in the form of tears and wails.

But unfairness, or to wallow in the notion of its cruel facade, is to neglect the true beauty that life has gifted me. I had 34 years with Keith, a life that had its ups and downs, yes. But it was also a time of great beauty, when we grew up, grew as humans, artists, responsible and caring people. We shared our life together and supported each other, experiencing the world, raising two beautiful, intelligent daughters. Saw each through college, and walked one down the aisle. Yes, we experienced a lifetime of love and joy and wonder together.

Each day, each week, or year, we may experience what can be described as unfairness. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it is heartbreaking. And yes, there is the feeling of incredible loss and pain, seeing something or someone you care about slip beyond your reach. Feeling the sting of an unfair act, or unfair words.

I could choose to measure life’s unfairness each day, tallying it up like a scorecard each week, letting it tighten its grip on my life with each passing month. But then I would be denying myself something far more important. I would be denying myself the ability to treasure the life that I have had in the past, or the one I wake to each day. If I counted up the daily unfairness tally, I might spend all my time counting. I would deny myself the joy and gratitude for the gifts I have been given. The stories of our lives that we’ve shared, and the future stories yet unwritten.

Yes, there are times when life seems so unfair. But I can’t bring myself to deny the life I will build upon the foundation of a beautiful life I had with Keith.

So, here’s to being thankful for my life with Keith. And to the future, watching my children build their lives, and being part of that. Here’s to whatever life will throw at me. I will not tally the unfairness of Keith’s passing. His life and our life was full and wonderful. With tinges of occasional sadness and cheeks yet slick with occasional tears, this first Thanksgiving and holiday season without him, I choose to remember him with a loving gratitude.

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Below: This is the photo I mentioned earlier this week, taken at the Beachouse in Fiji in 2001. Love that sly grin that also said “you did it to me again, stuck me in the middle of all these Mott students.” He’d complain in a good natured “grumpy old man” sort of way. But he always had a good time anyway.

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