It’s Thanksgiving. For many, many years, we’ve spent this day with the Crutchfield side of the family.
Food. Family. Football. That’s been our day for the past 20 years.
And so, here we are, in Arkansas, with Vance’s family but without Vance.
I silently cried when we crossed the state line. I’ve been here dozens of times. I know my way around his hometown. But it’s his town, not mine. Without Vance, I’d have never come here. Coming without him just seems wrong.
But here we are, with people who love us and who love him. With people who just might miss him as much as we do.
As a family, we went to out eat shortly after we got here. It was karaoke night. There was no way we were going to go up and sing. But…Eli was sitting next to me and he told me I should do it. He even offered me a little liquid courage, which in my case, was his Pepsi. After sitting there a while, I told Whitney to put our names down.
So with my little Crutchfield niece, born just a couple months after I joined her family, I stood in front of a table full of family and a room full of strangers and belted out “Nine to Five” in my best Dolly impersonation.
It wasn’t great. It really wasn’t even good. But it was fun. It was a new memory in an old place.
And as I sang, I thought of all the times I’d caught Vance smiling at me over the years. As I belted out Christmas carols in the kitchen. As I danced, much to the embarrassment of our children, around the living room. And on our honeymoon, when I got up with a couple other girls and sang in front of a different group of strangers. He was my biggest cheerleader. My slightly off-key crooning always made him smile. Tonight he wouldn’t have been embarrassed. He would have be grinning and genuinely happy that I was doing something fun. I wish he’d been here to see it.