As I pushed my cart past the cozy plaid blankets and metallic gourds, something caught my eye-- a throw pillow of course. It was off white with one word written on it in lovely gold script:
I didn't buy it, but I did notice what I was feeling as I read the word. A rush of gratitude for all that I'd been given in life. Gratitude for life itself. There was no asterisk in my thoughts, no bitter coda, and that, in itself seemed notable to me.
It was NOT:
Grateful, except for the part where my mom dies far too young.
Grateful, except for the loss of an amazing son whom the world needed, and I still NEED.
Grateful, except for big and small disappointments, disillusionments, slights and betrayals.
Grateful, except for a sense that I want to do more to follow God's call on my life, yet I feel lazy and stuck.
This would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
I remember the horrible first Thanksgiving just a few tortured weeks after Jack's death. When I passed our striped Thankfulness Notebook around the table, I wondered what the hell I would put in it. My sister looked similarly lost. She finally settled on being thankful for modern transportation so that we could be together during hard times.
These years later, I don't want to put on a false smile and act as if everything is okay. I don't want to imply that I don't feel sad often and bitter sometimes. Jack is dead, I'm 46 and pregnant, pretty much everything irritates me on some level, my body and my heart hurt, and this is not the life I wanted.
But oh, the GRATITUDE!
It seeps in unbidden. It travels on memories of a brother and sister playing together in their own little world. Of friends who chose the hard path and kept showing up. Of a God who paints the leaves the most brilliant yellows and reds. Of a looking outward at others who may need an infusion of HOPE. Of new life growing inside of me. Of day lilies ready to be planted today to surprise us anew next summer.
I don't want anyone telling me to be grateful, and I'm guessing you don't either. But oh how wonderful it feels when gratitude comes!