With Christmas rapidly approaching, I have been bracing myself for overwhelming sadness and the consuming ache of loss.
It hasn’t come.
Let me be clear. I miss Simon like crazy. The absence of my husband, his parents’ son, his siblings’ brother, and the kids’ father is real. It hurts everyday. I cry often. At inopportune times. I still haven’t figured out what all my triggers are. I packed up his shoes the other day – it was rough. His feet should be wearing those shoes. He should be wearing the snip-toe leather cowboy boots he bought himself for his 33rd birthday. He should be wearing the black Converse that he wore in our wedding and set beside our kids for a monthly picture during each of their first years. He should be wearing his ugly crocs for gardening. Instead, those shoes were all vacuum sealed and stored for future discovering for our children.
But in what most will say is the hardest time of the year for the grieving, I am filled with gratitude. This has been a gift from the Lord. Here’s what gratitude has looked like for our little family.
I have gratitude for a longtime friend who felt compelled to crochet “Golden Lone Stars” to sell at her church. She donated proceeds to our family so we wouldn’t have to worry about extra expenses at Christmas time. She gave me a few and it was the perfect finishing touch for our tree. The money was absolutely helpful but the thought and effort simply blew my mind. Having a tangible Golden Lone Star reminds me of how far we have come, how amazing our friends are, and how good God is.
I have gratitude for another friend that I hadn’t spoken with in quite awhile besides casual contact online. She called to thank me for the blog, our story, and the encouragement it has provided. Her words came at just the right time. I’ve been having more writer’s block and also find myself getting discouraged, that perhaps now that Simon is gone, the story becomes less compelling. God has so much more to add to this story and my friend’s phone call is what inspired this post and may resound in my head for future posts.
I have gratitude for two of the sassiest girls around. Santa visited their school and my older daughter was clearly smitten while my youngest wasn’t amused.
I have gratitude for nightly surprises from Elves. Someone (or lots of someones) have been leaving a gift every night on our porch. The kids and I scramble to the front door every morning to see what the note will say and what the present is. To know that we are thought of each day, months after our loss, touches me so deeply,
I have gratitude for girlfriends. On the same day, a girlfriend asked me out to lunch while another offered to babysit. Talk about timing! The girlfriend I lunched with is conveniently a licensed counselor and is such a supportive friend to listen to my verbal processing and, at times, venting! I also met again with a local widows group and so dearly enjoyed the community and conversation of these women journeying together.
I have gratitude for these three kids o’ mine. I always wanted a minimum of three and the Lord granted the desire of my heart. I told them Mom needed just one hour to herself this afternoon so I could write and they have interrupted me no less than 50 times. Last week, I took them and a friend to Target to grab supplies for their class parties. It was chaotic but they are mine and I love them all the time.
I have gratitude for our local California Highway Patrol. They raised money for a variety of organizations and families last month and I just learned we were one of the recipients. Once again, the money is so helpful but the thoughtfulness is what brings the true joy.
I have gratitude that we will be surrounded in love this Christmas. My whole immediate family will be together, a longtime mutual friend will be in town from Texas, and the projected weather will be 70 degrees all week. California, you are worth the sunshine taxes.
I have gratitude for every Christmas card, letter, call, email, and text. Thank you for thinking of us, praying for us, and being supportive practically and emotionally.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
“For unto us a child has been born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6