Thanksgiving 2010 was the day the fog began. It's the day my beautiful sister, Talaya Keshun Williams, passed away at the young age of thirty eight.
Thanksgiving was my family's favorite holiday, especially the sisters; I had two of them and we enjoyed every holiday, but Thanksgiving held a special place in our hearts. For the three of us, the tradition was to go to our parents house and eat, watch movies, play games and just have great conversations. We did those things frequently, but on this long holiday weekend we had uninterrupted time together.
As our families grew so did the food. Thanksgiving was full of turkey, ham, chicken, dressing, macaroni & cheese, green beans, collard greens, corn, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce. Then for dessert Dad always made his sweet potato pies and peach cobbler. The three of us would buy a paper and search through it for the amazing Black Friday sales, then strategically plan our Friday take down for the next day, another full day that we would spend together. That Black Friday Shopping experience was a 20 year old tradition for my sisters and I.
Even though we loved Thanksgiving, that was not the only day that we did this. I must have seen my sisters every other day, sometimes more, we were very close; Sisterfriends is how I described our relationship to others. We would have sleepovers and retreats, take long road trips, hangout. The days that I did not see my sisters; we would talk, text or email each other. So I never went more than three days without talking to at least one of them.
Thanksgiving 2010 was the year that I was going to change up the tradition. This was my first full year of being married and I wanted to host the dinner at my house. Thanksgiving for forty was to be at my house. I had been up all night cooking and cleaning: turkey, ham, pot pie, dressing, cranberry sauce, greens and green beans were on the menu. My menu was almost complete, however, I needed another starch, and Talaya made the best macaroni and cheese so I asked her to make one for us. I was so excited about hosting dinner at my house, I could hardly sleep. I had a secret that I had been holding in for a few weeks and I wanted to tell everyone at the same time... I was pregnant!!!! 9 weeks to be exact.
Thanksgiving morning Talaya called me and we talked for thirty minutes about nothing, I wanted so many times to tell her the secret, but I was going to see her in less than three hours. I held it this long, what was three more hours? She told me that she was waiting for the macaroni and cheese that she was bringing to finish cooking. She said, "I will see you soon," and hung up the phone. That was the last time I ever talked to my sister.
Talaya never made it to my house, she had an asthma attack in her car on her way to my house and died. She would never see my beautiful Thanksgiving. We would never eat any of my food, look through the paper with us, play the game… hear the news.
About 3pm her son had called me and told me that she was having trouble catching her breath, so I asked where they were and headed that way. I made my way to the hospital, jumped out the car and ran to the hospital door where my cousin who was in the car with her met me and said, "She's gone," those words will never be forgotten as they are etched in my memory like a terrible broken record.
After that I couldn't hear anything else, a fog of grief overwhelmed me and I couldn't function. As I rode silently in the car back to my house the entire thing seemed like a bad dream. When I got to the house, my guests were still waiting there for the dinner to start. Instead of the good news about my pregnancy that day, I had to announce that my sister was dead and on that day, at that time I couldn't think of one thing to be thankful about.
My heart was and is still broken, its important to know that even after you have learned to live each day as normal as you can after your loss, like anything that is broken all the pieces will never fully be in tact. After that loss and many more I went to a foggy, cloudy place, not knowing if I was every going to come out of it. It was hard to see through the fog of uncertainty, depression and heartbreak. Nothing was clear to me anymore, it felt as if the fog would never let up, it was just one thing after the other; I went to a bad place and wasn't sure how I was going to get out!"
Then one day, a few things started becoming a littler clearer, I was still grieving but I literally felt the fog lifting. I decided to embrace my here and now. There were so many others around me going through some of the same things and I finally knew what my purpose was. It was to help others who were not embracing their grieving process and wanted to do it and just didn't know how. I needed to help others heal, find hope, and embrace their here and now. From there FOG (For Our Grieving) was born.