Sunday, November 24, 2013

This day, two years ago.

Two years ago today, it was Thanksgiving, and cold. I wasn't at a table full of food, surrounded by laughter and family stories like usual, though. I was in a hospital room with my mom, brother, and Tyler. My aunt and grandma had gone; grandma didn't fully understand, but she understood enough, and she needed to rest. We who were left in that room were mostly silent. We were exhausted from the days before--physically and emotionally--and the right words really weren't there anyway.

Two years ago today, on that Thanksgiving, in that hospital room in St. Louis, I watched my dad take his final breath.

I don't know if you've ever seen anyone die, but it's eerie. Undeniably spiritual. You know it immediately, but you still can't believe it. I fully felt nearly every human emotion within a span of about ten seconds--disbelief, rage, relief, fear, guilt, and crushingly powerful grief.

The weirdest part is, after all that--I understood what I had seen, but I couldn't make it real.

It's still not real.

So many times I see something that would have made him laugh, and I immediately think, "I need to tell dad about that." My car starts acting funny, and he's the first person I think to call. I almost bought him a Christmas present last week. Two years seems like an awfully long time to be in the denial stage of grief, but I don't know what else you would call that.

It took me almost a year to feel God again. Looking back now, I can see Him so clearly weaving in and out of those moments--preparing us for them in ways we didn't understand at the time, protecting us from some of their weight. I just couldn't see Him through all of the guilt and grief and chaos. I honestly felt abandoned by Him, but I know I wouldn't have survived it if I truly had been.

This is the first time I've written any of this story down--even a shadow like this one. It's seemed too permanent, I think. Really, though, I needed to tell that story as a background for this:

This time of year is hard for me, to put it lightly. It's so incredibly easy for me to wallow in self-pity, start to get a little depressed, to resent Thanksgiving and rage against the thought of being thankful on a day that stole so much from me. A couple weeks ago, when I was beginning to slide into it yet again, this thought popped into my head:

 "Thankfulness has nothing to do with the contents of your life, and everything to do with the condition of your heart."

Punch in the gut. I have so very very much for which to be thankful. If I had nothing but life itself, I would still have reason for gratitude. Even in this very situation, I was letting the event of my father's death overshadow the 26 years I should be thanking God to have had with him. What a horrible way to "honor" my dad--by holding onto grief and resentment over the fact that he's gone instead of celebrating the many incredible memories he left behind. He deserves better.

Thanksgiving is still hard--really really hard. This year carries with it a little different perspective, though....and a lot more gratitude.


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*I'm going to take a bit of a blogging break this week, but I'll still be responding to comments and emails. I'll be back on Friday with a monthly IG recap!

14 comments:

  1. The timing of this is incredible as I am taking my last trip to my grandparent's home today......selling the place. I was with both as they passed, so this struck a cord for sure.

    Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing such a tough story.

    Total crybaby over here. Hugs to you.

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    1. Jessica--

      I know it's been a tough couple of years for you and Ethan. Cherish all the special wonderful memories and keep those close to your heart...because in the end that is really all that will ever really matter. Love and peace to you!

      Karen B

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  2. Girl! Praying for you this week, I know it can't be easy at all! Thank you for sharing your heart and your struggles, thank you for being so truthful! I can't imagine anything worse... Hope you have lots of quality time with friends and family during this break. :)

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    1. So thankful for you, Ang! You're such a constant source of encouragement to me!

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  3. This is incredibly written, and so beautifully raw. thank you for sharing this. It warms my heart to see other people showing their authenticity by talking about hard things. I hope your able to keep that beautiful perspective.

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    1. Thanks Emma. It was so hard to write, but I think there's a lot of beauty in the hard things if you can just bring it out.

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  4. I'll be praying for you sweet Jess. I know how hard it is to loss someone you love dearly and the holidays can be the worse. This is my first Christmas without my Mom, and I try to tell myself... choose joy. choose joy. She would have wanted me to be happy instead of holding on to grief. You're such a strong beautiful lady Jess. You got this.

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    1. You are so sweet, Emma. First Christmas was really hard for me; you have a much better perspective than I did, though. Choose joy--something I need to be reminded of often!

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  5. Oh Jess, sending warm thoughts and strength your way! This is beautifully written.

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  6. Jess, this is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this story, and for bringing it back around to gratitude. You have the right attitude about these awful things in life.

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    1. I haven't always! It's definitely a process. :)

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  7. What an incredibly beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this.

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