It's time for Thanksgiving. It's supposed to be a happy, feel good holiday. One that makes us reflect on the blessings in our lives.
Being thankful for blessings is a wonderful thing. I'm thankful for so much.
Holidays can be very difficult though, when you're missing a loved one. Especially the first year after a death.
That's where I am.
And it's hitting on two fronts.
And it's harder than I imagined it would be.
I knew it was coming.
We lost my mom and father-in-law two weeks apart in May 2013.
So this time last year, we were with my in-laws because my father-in-law was in hospice care and we knew it would be his last Thanksgiving. What we didn't know is that it was my mom's last as well. We couldn't be both places at once, and deferred to my husband's family. The rest of my family was with Mom and Daddy. For that, I am very thankful. She was surrounded the people most important to her. Her family.
So for now, the memories are flooding back. How happy my father-in-law was to be with his kids and grandkids. To have the whole family together. To watch his beloved Macy's Day Parade!
It makes me cry. But with happiness mixed in. We gave him a special gift last year.
Yet, he gave us a special gift. He finished the race well.
Even as he was dying, he dictated thank you notes to his friends. To the bank tellers who had been nice to him. He started calling my mom to check on her each week since she had compression fractures in her spine and was in great pain. He called his prayer partner many times and asked him to pray for my mom. That's a gift I will treasure to my dying days……
But even more so, he spent his time recounting his blessings from God. Over and over again. Every day. He talked about the trips they were blessed to take. The life they'd lived. Their business that had supported them. The friendships they'd made. The view of the mountains he saw every morning from his kitchen table. His relationship with God.
He was a very, very thankful man.
So this year, in the midst of the joy, sorrow is mingled in.
But in the midst of the sorrow, joy is mingled in.
I can't just have a happy, feel good kind of Thanksgiving. That's my old normal.
My new normal is going to be learning to be thankful in the midst of sorrow. To live well in spite of the pain.
To run the race of my life that God has set before me. To run well and finish strong.
Like my father-in-law.
Like my mom.
They gave me a very special gift. The both loved God. And lived, reflecting his love and grace.
For that, I am truly and deeply thankful.
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving.