I went to see Kati Marton, the award-winning journalist and author of Paris: A Love Story, speak last week at the Book and Culture Festival at the Cherry Hill Jewish Community Center. Kati’s memoir is about her life after the sudden death of her second husband, Richard Holbrooke, a former U.S. diplomat. Kati’s first husband was Peter Jennings, the former anchor of the ABC Evening News, who passed away from lung cancer in 2005.
“This is life,” said Kati. “None of us escape loss.” She had been married most of her entire adult life. “To be single, what does one do?” said Kati. She went to Paris, “where good things always happen” to decide what she was going to do in the next phase of her life.
I enjoyed reading Kati’s memoir. As Kati told us, “this book is about how to get from terrible grief back to life.” I could relate to Kati’s comments about “how loss opens up other lives” and about how she has become much closer to her siblings and to her children since the death of her husband. “When you are married you lose some of those close bonds with others,” said Kati. “After multiple losses, we have started new traditions – many centered around Paris.”
Like Kati, after the loss of my husband M (almost five years ago), I have grown closer to my two children, my daughter A and my son D. We are a tight threesome now, carrying on some of our old family traditions, while creating new ones as well.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I will not be roasting a turkey or elaborate turducken like their dad did each Thanksgiving morning. My sister-in-law is ordering the turkey all prepared from the local grocer. Rather, I will be trying a new dish on the menu – carmelized brussels sprouts – and hope the sprouts will turn out as delicious as the ones my children and I recently ate at Alta, a tapas restaurant in NYC. My son D will be following in his father’s footsteps when he prepares the baquette just the way his dad did – slicing, dusting with olive oil, salting and toasting in the oven until nice and crispy. Then we will all devour the slices topped with our favorite spinach artichoke and crab artichoke dips from Whole Foods. Yes, M gave his children a wonderful love of good food…and me too.
I am also making two homemade pies this year. Cider Apple Crumb Pie from The Hay Day Country Market Cookbook and Pear Blueberry Pie from a recipe I saved from an old Bon Appetit magazine. My late husband M subscribed to Bon Appetit and always loved the Thanksgiving issue.
“Open your heart,” said my yoga instructor P this morning during yoga class. “It’s time to think about those you are grateful for this Thanksgiving and scrunch them into your heart.” I thought about my late husband M and I scrunched him into a corner of my heart. “Scrunch some more endearing souls into your heart,” P repeated, “There’s lots of room in there.” I scrunched in my daughter A and my son D. I scrunched in my mom P and my sister N. I scrunched in my boyfriend L. I scrunched in all my extended family members and friends.
Ahh, ahh, ahh, my heart is now fully scrunched with gratefulness this Thanksgiving. I hope your heart is fully scrunched too.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
My losses in life became propellant to other things–I just never realized it at the time, for during the crisis, I just slogged through (as most of us do.) In retrospect, all were like giant pit-stops where I refueled and went on to other goals–not the ones I’d necessarily charted. Today I write of my life experiences at “Encouragement in a Difficult World: Biddy Bytes Blog” and I’ve recently put out two children’ books. Grandpa and the Truck: Tales (for Kids) by a Long-Haul Trucker highlight my current husband’s experiences as driver of the big rigs. But they’re for little ones! I find life incredibly interesting for nothing has turned out as I supposed it would, for I’m on a course now that’s different, challenging, purposeful. If anyone had told me I’d be writing a long-haul trucker’s tales at the age of 67, I’d have never believed, but thats what I’m doing. I just keep going through the doors that present….tho’ I never know where they’ll lead.
Colleen, Thanks for sharing your story. I will check out your blog. I agree, you have to live in the present because you cannot predict what the future will be.
I am so thrilled to have discovered this blog. Not only is your writing heartening and energetic, you have provided a community for me to follow as I maintain my own blog about post-50 issues. Thanks so much, I’ll be back…Susan Bonifant
Thanks Susan…appreciate your readership and will check out your blog too.