“What are you thankful for?”
The phrase that is thrown around quite often this time of year. Gratitude list. Name things you’re thankful for. Things and people you appreciate. What are you most thankful for this year?
5 and 1/2 years ago, that first Thanksgiving without you, these questions would have sent me in a spiral of tears and clenched fists… what could i possibly be thankful for? I just buried my son. His father just left. This should have been his first holiday season with us. His first little onesie with a silly turkey on it, his first dimpled first full of his Mimi’s famous garlic mashed potatoes… his first family photo shoot amongst the autumn leaves of Ohio… should have been. But wasn’t.
And every year we gather together around the festive table, there will always be an empty high chair… booster seat… big boy chair this year. And every year, i will look around that table filled with the ones i love so much, and i will smile at each heart that has loved me so well, and a tear or 2 may trail down that cheek. A tear for my little one who is having quite the banquet of his own with Jesus, and i like to imagine they have quite a massive “kids table” filled with his angel baby friends…
And I’m jealous of that table. The utter completeness they must feel in the presence of our Savior… the joy with no sorrow. I can only imagine the immense amount of love and wholeness around that table.
I wouldn’t say every year without my son gets easier, but every year i seem to be a little better at juggling the tears of grief and the laughter and joy around that table. My muscles have gotten a little stronger the longer I’ve learned to rides the waves of grief that come out of nowhere at times. And at moments, my arms will be too tired. And another grieving Mama will swim beside me. Tell me she gets it, and that I’ll make it somehow. And we ride the wave together. I don’t know what i would do without those little life rafts of “me too” that come at the most needed times.
I am reminded once again of that lovely winged creature that has been such a symbol of love and remembrance for Edwin. My sister sent me these pictures today, and told me someone had stepped on this beautiful little life. Broken his wings…
and he was laying there taking his last breaths. She lovingly picked up his broken body, and held some sacred space for his short little life… i am definitely far more sentimental then my sister, so this message coming from her came at the exact moment i needed to be reminded… today, my wings felt broken once again. Stepped on by the waves of past torment, and i couldn’t stop the tears. I opened my phone, and was reminded of the tender care and love that was given to me during so much grief. So many times of broken wings and shattered hearts… and i am grateful. I am grateful for this little flutterby’s life, no matter how short it was. Even though their lives may be short, it does not make them any less beautiful…
This Thanksgiving, i am thankful for the broken wings, healing scars, and smiles through tears i am able to experience. I am thankful that though the Lord could have taken me home many times, He still has a story to write through me here. And my story isn’t over. And i am thankful, that though there is a big boy chair missing it’s 5 years old occupant around that table, he still sends flutterbys and kisses on their wings, and aunties to hold sacred space for his memory. I am truly thankful.
This Thanksgiving, may we celebrate what we are grateful for, and in the same moment, hold sacred space for the empty chair around the table.