Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

This is a difficult post to write for what can be said on a holiday in which all over the country, families and friends are gathering to celebrate the annual Thanksgiving feast? While living overseas many years ago, the fourth Thursday of November came and went like any other day. But here, schools and businesses are closed. It is one of the busiest times to travel whether by plane, train, bus or car. Extended family and generations within families gather. Talking, laughing, story-telling, playing games, watching football, and gaining at least a couple of pounds are part and parcel of this day. And in the midst of all the festivies and food, we stop and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

For those who live outside of the US and may not be familiar with Thanksgiving, just think turkey, stuffing, gravy, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin and pecan pie. Numerous variations of this basic menu will be served depending on where one resides (i.e. deep South, New England, etc.), the types of recipies passed down from prior generations, and as was in my case, the ethnic background.

My parents are Korean and as a kid, I remember the Thanksgiving dishes being along side many traditional Korean foods such as bulgogi (marinated beef) and kim chee (hot, spicy and very garlicky pickled cabbage). Doesn't that sound appetizing? The solution to this mixture of American/Asian foods was easy - two meals in one sitting. It would be fascinating to see what foods will fill tables throughout our country today. Times for this huge meal will vary. In our home now, if the New England Patriots were playing, the meal time would revolve around this game.

This year, my side of the family has gathered in Florda - renting two homes by the beach. We have traveled from Illinois, Virginia and New York to be together for both Thanksgiving and celebration of my father's 80th birthday. It is great to be together and would be perfect except for one thing. It is strange - Josh's absence is so much louder than his presence ever was. I just took for granted that we would have many Thanksgiving meals with him - little did I know it would stop at seventeen. Our kids were blessed with good health so the possibility of losing one just never occurred to me. So to be here now, sans Josh, is still too hard to believe.

From the beginning of the trip, I envision him being with us. Sacked out on the long car ride down, listening to his iPod, waking only for bathroom/food stops. In the house we are renting, his bed would be the couch - no problem as he can sleep anywhere. We would have gotten our money's worth for him at the "all-you-can-eat" pancake and sausage breakfast on the beach earlier this week. My sister's kids are younger and have looked up to Josh all of their lives. Just chilling on the beach would not have been an option as they would have pulled him into the water to jump waves and teach them how to ride the boogie board. An impromptu football game on the beach became too hard for me to watch as he would've been the star player. Strong, muscular, laughing, teasing, running, jumping, throwing and most of all - alive.

We've been eating Korean food every night, thanks to my mother's great cooking, and let just say that far few leftovers would be in our fridge if he were here. After the dinner dishes are cleared, a poker game commences. I can just see he and the youngest cousin as partners - Josh allowing him to throw in the chips, knock on the table to check, or throw in the cards for a fold.

It is not fair that these visions are only in my head and not reality. "How did we come to be here?" I ask myself. "What didn't we see? What didn't we do? What warning signs did we miss with him? What could we have done to prevent this horrible tragedy?" Then my thoughts, very predictably now, turn to questioning him. "Why, Josh, why? Why did you do this to yourself? Why did you go down this irreversible path of self-destruction? Why didn't you consider your life worth fighting for? Why did you give up on your life and future? Why did you lose hope?" I listen hard for answers, but there is only silence.

My prayer today is simple -
Dear God - thank you for the blessing of family and friends. Thank you for our home, health and livelihood. I pray that our son with with you and is at peace. Be with all of his friends who, while young, have had to deal with such a tragedy. May the impact of his life continue to be felt. May the mode of his death, if thought of by others, be tossed aside as an unviable solution so that no other family would have to endure the anguish and grief that we continually feel. Please continue to help each member of our family deal with the grief of his death while moving on with life.

God Bless


gisellesmom said...

You and your family were one of the first things i thought about thanksgiving morning as i rolled over to see a beautiful framed picture of Josh at my side. I thought about how weird it would for you since we all know Josh LOVES to eat...I prayed that you guys would have a wonderful thanksgiving and just know that we are all thinking about you here Sue.

And that from time to time I have dreams of Josh holding my daughter in all kinds of diferent places and he is happy and smiling cause he love Giselle, and i hope that is true...that he is happy.

illiniorange said...

I finally think I am able to get a blog onto this site. In reading your blogs, the words my sister-in-law told me ring true: "It'll take
at least 3 years to begin to get over the loss of a child".

I knew this 1st major family holiday would be tough for all of you as it was for my sister & brother-in-laws after losing their spouses...and they had time to "prepare" for their losses.

I am so glad that you find comfort in the Word, as I don't know how others deal with such devastation without Him.

There was indeed much missing last week. It was a time of celebration (80th) mixed with deep sadness. I too, imagined all those scenarios
with Josh, including G-man latched onto him like a barnacle not to be shaken or rubbed off! I missed seeing how Josh changed each time I got to see him.

I could also see you all struggling between deep sadness over your loss, yet also trying to find reasons and ways to be happy in life, too. Bless your hearts, it will,somehow, get easier.

Roxanne said...

I have been dreading the Holiday's so much!! I just hear the word "Happy" anything and I seem to cringe. "Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday" I immediatley feel like I don't want to hear that word. I am sure that is not what Josh would want because I know he loved Holiday's as it meant lots of time to just "chill" hang out with family and friends and eat a lot of great food.

I am so glad to know that you were in Florida with your family surrounding you. As that is the only place to be as such a time.

I think Holiday's and Special occations are sooo much harder than regular days because there is such an expectation of joy and happiness. And when you have deep pain it seems even more painful.

I want to wish you comfort and love to surround you. I pray you can feel God's loving arms around you and I pray you can feel Josh's love too. I know God is the God of all comfort and he has the power to heal these broken hearts.
Love, Roxanne