Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted -- a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.
-Rabbi Harold Kushner
In the last ten days, as I've wondered what I would write about being thankful for if I could get any kind of internet connection or signal from my phone, or as I've taken care of my mom as she was sick, or as I've laid in bed sick myself, my mind has been flooded with possibilities.
I am not trying to sugar coat things or put on a brave face. I'm being honest. There was only one day when being thankful didn't come natural or easy. I don't remember which day that was. But as I lay in bed exhausted I thought, "I don't even know what I would write about. I don't even feel thankful." I had to think for several minutes to come up with something. That day feeling thankful was a chore. And what I came up with was those things we are always thankful for. Platitudes. Like God and His promises. That was about all the thankfulness I could muster that day.
I said before that I wouldn't have taken this project on if I would have known everything that would happen this month. Not because it was hard to feel thankful, but because it was hard to find the time and clear-headedness to write about it in the midst of it all.
But in these final ten days of November, I've felt especially thankful and at peace that my grandparents are back together again.
You should know my grandparents raised me. My grandmother cared for me straight from the hospital where I was born until I was 16 and she went into the hospital herself unable to care for me or others any longer. She taught me and raised me up. She gave me advice that I follow still today. She believed in me and pushed me and guided me and corrected me and loved me like no one else.
Losing her is still the hardest thing I have ever been through.
And since the day she died there has been a void in my life. She passed away 13 years ago, on November 27th. I have been able to adjust to minutes and hours and days and weeks and months and years without her. But never Thanksgiving. She left and it became a restless holiday for me.
I loved and cherished my grandfather. I was sad to lose him. I miss him. I started missing him before he even actually breathed his last breath. I started missing him the day he couldn't talk back to me when I called him on the phone. And I thought that losing him would feel like losing my grandmother all over again.
But it didn't. It felt like they were finally back together again. It felt peaceful. It felt like a wrong in the world had been righted. And while I couldn't sit at the feet of these precious grandparents I loved, I knew they were together. As they should be. I knew that when I would see them again, it would be both of them together. As it should be. And more than anything, I was more thankful than I can express for them to finally be with one another again. The world knocked off kilter by her death was balanced out again.
And for the first time since I've been without granny, Thanksgiving didn't feel horrible. I imagined their Thanksgiving reunion in paradise and I was thankful to be able to enjoy the day and enjoy the time. I was thankful to just relax and not feel like everything was all wrong and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
In these last days of November, I've felt thankful for my mom and for my husband. For my brother. For family and for friends. For sweet, sweet memories. For grace and mercy. For the Lord's provision. I've been thankful for rest and relaxation. For comfortable beds and comfortable chairs and comfortable clothes. For medicine. For understanding, sympathetic co-workers. For food and for medicine. For Coca-Cola. For turkey. For words and books and writing. For snow and for rain and for sunshine. For transportation and phones and texts. For access to technology and no access to technology. For air to breathe. For cabins and vacations and seclusion. For hot tubs. For prayer. For a break from responsibility and people who understand that I had to let the ball drop and will come back sometime later to pick it up again. I'm thankful they're holding it for me until I feel ready.
I feel exposed and vulnerable without my grandfather. I feel lost without his advice and guidance. I've never spent more time in my life with anyone than I spent with him. I could write a whole post about everything that frustrated me about him, but I could write even more about how smart and resourceful he was. How he worked for my 29 years fixing all the broken things in my life. I'm thankful for him and all that he was in my life. And I'm thankful to know that he is finally getting to rest now.
I'm thankful for his influence, and my granny's. I'm thankful they gave me the strength to live life without them. And I'm thankful for all the blessings from them and from the Lord. I am thankful. More thankful than words or blogs or actions.
My mom said we should thank the Lord 800 million times. I told her I probably wouldn't be able to do that. She said I should ask for help then because she wasn't sure even that would be enough. So as I feel thankful -- as we feel thankful -- I hope you can join us too. And thanks.