It’s a strange thing that Carey died on Thanksgiving because reminders and anticipation of this holiday start popping up weeks in advance. This has forced me to start facing a dreadful day that I would rather not face. The colors, smells, and familiar fall surroundings have stirred up memories that were stored away, not purposefully, but in a protective fashion I would guess. Some of these memories uncover pain and fear that sting like fresh wounds. God has allowed these to stick around for a reason. I just don’t pretend to know what that reason is.
A year ago today, Carey and I pulled out of our driveway and would never again come back home together. He didn’t get to say goodbye to our boys. It just didn’t play out like that, but that’s ok. I’m thankful we got to the hospital when we did because after he was checked in, he would never be the same. His boys were protected from seeing their daddy in the declining physical state that kidney failure was cursing on him. Our last conversation was going back and forth as to whether we should go to Duke’s ER or the local Wake Med ER. Not very profound, but we were blessed with our fair share of profound conversations knowing he was in his last weeks. I’m thankful for those.
Many memories, however, bring a deep sense of gratitude – appropriately timed for the season of thankfulness. I’m thankful for all the people, even strangers, who walked our family through the darkest valley. I’m thankful for the friends and family who took care of Eli and Carver so I could stay with Carey day and night during his final days. For my dad who left his hunting trip to rush here and stayed with me nearly every night in Carey’s room, sleeping in one of those terribly uncomfortable hospital recliners. For my sister and mom who got on the first flight possible from California and took care of me non-stop, missing work and their own families. For Carey’s parents and brother who even in the midst of their unimaginable grief helped take care of the boys and checked in with me often to make sure I was eating and was comfortable. For the incredible hospice nurses and volunteers who I’m pretty sure are actually angels on this earth. For my friend Shelly who understood the magical comfort of a Starbucks latte and a tight hug. For the many other friends and church family who visited, shared stories, brought meals, prayed with us, cried with us, and stayed faithfully by our side – some even sacrificing precious family time on Thanksgiving day for the final goodbye. I’m thankful for the friends who so graciously walked me through the foreign and painful process of planning a funeral, and made sure it was a beautiful one. For all the people who came from near and far to celebrate Carey’s life. For the people who held us in their prayers from a distance, and for the many who sent cards and generous gifts in the days and weeks to follow. I am incredibly thankful for each of you. You are all God’s gift. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
This past year has held immense grief and immense joy. At times these two war within and that has been a significant battle, but God is ruler of both. His peace that is beyond my understanding grants joy permission to abide within a weary heart. His grace allows a seed of hope, planting beauty that rises from ashes.
I’m sure this life is profound, but I’m just not convinced we’re as important as we tend to think. I know that’s an oddly negative way to end this post, but we come and we go in the blink of an eye. Our significance can really only be found in that we were somehow worth the blood of Jesus, and there is an eternity with Him in the waiting for those who surrender. If you are hurting, if you are grieving, if you are confused, or tired, or fearful – cry out to God. Talk to him, scream at him, weep with him, curse at him, confess to him. His grace is strong enough to handle it. He is love. He wants you any way you need to come to him, and he will hold you.
So above all, I am thankful that God continues to hold me each and every day. I’m learning to be still and loosen my grip on the reigns of control. He’s present and He’s faithful. ‘All will be made well once again’. *
I hope you enjoy this beautiful season of thankfulness with your loved ones.
* lyrics from the song Morning Light by Josh Garrels – check it out