As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate Thanksgiving more. I think growing up, it felt like a short stop on the holiday highway from Halloween to Christmas. And, for the record, I do not consider Halloween any sort of holiday. I know that in other cultures, there are traditions and customs that are celebrated in more of a holiday fashion. I can not intelligently speak to the history behind it or where it all comes from. So, to clarify, in my household Halloween is nothing more than dressing up in a costume and getting candy. That is not a “holy day” to me at all. As we went through the fall celebration season, I looked around my house and decided that going forward, I am going to de-emphasize the Halloween part of fall and emphasize the Thanksgiving part. Halloween décor will be up for the week prior and that is it. I can not control stores pushing the Christmas season, which ultimately short-changes Thanksgiving. I’m going to water down Halloween and try to focus on a holiday that celebrates gratitude. I think it is incredibly meaningful and a great way to begin celebrating Christmas. In light of where our society is at with Christmas, we all need a little more thanks-giving. I have lots of feelings about Christmas and not nearly enough space to right about it. If you have been reading the blog, you probably have a good idea of what my thoughts are anyway.
This year especially I have a new-found love for thanks-giving, which is why I feel even more strongly about the celebration of it. It has been sustenance through this storm of life. I know I included my thoughts on thanking the Lord to some extent in previous posts—especially when Reece was in the hospital. I am not exactly sure why being thankful in the midst of turmoil can produce such a calming and peaceful effect other than God wants us to do so. It was a surprising realization to me, but the Bible specifically states in all things to give thanks (1 Thess 5:18). In the past, I think I viewed being thankful as an obligation, versus a necessity for getting through life. When I follow the mental trail of the things I am blessed with, it is incredibly affirming and humbling to know how well I am provided for and how God covers my family and me in his love. I heard a cheesy-but-true statement on the radio the other day: What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today? I generally don’t like statements that strong-arm me into doing something. I want to give thanks with a grateful heart, because when it’s not genuine, it does absolutely nothing. Without the heart gratitude, the words become a place marker for the rest of me to catch up and genuinely mean it. But this statement I heard has stuck with me. I think how I viewed the whole pilgrims-and-Indians story (or at least what the text books told us in the 80’s and 90’s) was that they were given all they wanted and stopped to give thanks. I’m not sure I focused on the provisional aspect and whether or not it was in line with what they wanted. I’m sure we never discussed it in that amount of detail growing up. Regardless, throughout our year and even before–well before–we were provided for. Reece, I am learning even now, was so well provided for. How can I not be thankful?
If you would have told me a year ago that this holiday season Reece would be gone and I would feel gratitude, it would have been a tough sell. However, reflecting on all that has happened, I am grateful for many things. I am grateful that I feel grateful! I am thankful for being blessed with all three kids, my husband, my family, my friends, Terry’s job, our home…I could go on and on. Here are some things that I feel a sense of gratitude for, as I reflect on this last year.
1.) I have a Savior; I need a Savior. Because of Him, I get to see my son again. I am only separated from him briefly. It is only because of Jesus that this is the case. Thank-you, God, for sending your Son.
2.) God sent a Son who suffered. He chose to save us in a way that I can personally relate to. I am humbled that he chose this way—of having a child suffer and die. He could have saved us in many other ways and he chose the most painful way imaginable, in my opinion. I would not be able to make this choice myself. I fully admit that if I had been able to do anything to save Reece and spare him from suffering and a physical death, I would have. That includes allowing many others to perish. Yep—I’m that selfish. I emphasize #1 again—I need a Savior. Thank-you, God, for demonstrating your love through sending your Son to die. I can not imagine how painful it was for you, but I have a taste of it in my own life.
3.) We had a baby in the midst of it all—not part of our planning. We were thinking in our minds that we would try to get pregnant in the summer of 2012. Going through pregnancy in the midst of this, while we always were thrilled to be pregnant again, was a stressful thing. I would not have chosen to be pregnant during this time and often felt like God must have some great big plan, because this pregnancy was so specifically placed in the middle of it all. I still am working through mixed feelings of delight over Scarlett and deep sadness over Reece. Still, God provided for our desire to have three children, knowing we would not be able to take on a pregnancy in the midst of our grief. We found out we were pregnant just a month before any of Reece’s blood work began. Thank-you, God, for knowing what is in my best interest, even when I do not. Thank-you for having a sovereign plan over my life.
4.) I have five years, three months, and eleven days of spending time with Reece on earth. It could have ended during the pregnancy. It was strange, in light of the circumstances, that it did not. Reece’s time here was a gift to us as parents and all that know him. Thank-you, God, for allowing us to know Reece for five sweet years before taking him to be with You. I anxiously await the day when I get to look into those gorgeous blue eyes again.
5.) I am blessed with three children. I love each of them dearly. I had nine weeks with them here on earth together. In those nine weeks, they were probably all three together three times. I have one picture of them together. At times, I have felt anger over this. I still feel a longing to have them be together and for our family to feel that wholeness. Yet somehow, over these last few months, I have come to appreciate that I actually do have a picture of them together; that I do have a few nights when they were all under one roof. I choose to see those few weeks as a gift. Reece may have never made it back to our house, but he did. As stressful as it was, it provided times for us to be together as a family. Thank-you, God, for the moments I experienced with all three of my kids together.
6.) Even though I know Reece suffered, I know he was provided for. He stood in his furnace and God was with him. As I reflect on the last year, the last five years, read my journal entries from Reece’s life (as limited as they are), remember things that he said to us over the years and during his time in the hospital, I know God was with him. Thank-you, God, for providing for Reece in ways that only You and he will know. Thank-you for the few things that Reece shared with us that permeate our souls and provide deep understanding that you were always with him and that he knows and loves You. Thank-you, for being his perfect Parent.
7.) I know where Reece is at and that he is healthy and happy. I have no doubts. Thank-you, God, for promising Heaven, to those who believe in Jesus. Thank-you for reassuring us that Reece is with you there.
8.) I have a loving family who is supportive. They came together in this time and showed love and care for us and for Reece. Reece loves them dearly. Thank-you, God, for our family.
9.) Reece passed away from a complication of a complication of a complication of a complication. There is nothing I feel aligned to in regard to pointing fingers at why he passed away. It is not a distraction in that way. I don’t feel focused anger at any one thing, because where do I start? Adenovirus? GVHD? BMT? MDS? Each contributed to Reece’s body failing. I certainly struggle with what happened, but in regard to how to direct my efforts going forward, I’m more concerned about focusing on his soul and his faith. I know God will restore his body someday. Everyone has a body that will eventually fail. Thank-you, God, for resolving this part mentally, for me.
10.) God is sovereign. He gets my life way better than I get it. It takes a whole heap of pressure off me—a person who struggles with anxiety—to figure everything out. Included in my life is faith in Him. Faith is a gift. Thank-you, God, for being sovereign over all things and for giving me faith in you.