In the past few weeks Julia’s school bag has come home brimming with handmade wreaths decorated with marker colored squirrels and glued on pine cones, turkeys traced from her small hand and a white construction paper Pilgrim’s bonnet tied with colorful yarn under her chin. Julia has loved getting to know more about Thanksgiving and enjoys sharing her knowledge with me at night as we are preparing for bed. She told me that Indians get their names from nature and according to her fabric head dress, Julia’s Indian name is “Princess Sunny Day.” Recently, as we were saying our prayers Julia asked me what I was thankful for. I quickly said, “I’m thankful for you” and was met with a shocked face at my quick and rather easy answer. “That’s it?” Julia questioned tucking her footie pajama-ed feet under her. “But, I’m thankful for so many things, mommy. Aren’t you?”
I have found thankfulness to be hard to wrap my heart around of late. I have always loved the idea of gratitude and finding a quiet time and way to say thank you and to reflect on the blessings bestowed upon us and the comforts we have as a family and community. But I must admit that finding the gratitude in my heart is not easily come by. I find so much that I’m just moving through the hours, the days and cannot find time or energy to reflect or really think on my feelings, happy and sad; joyous and poignant.
But Julia’s question has caused me to pause and think on the people and community for whom I’m grateful. so here goes:
I’m thankful for friends and family who meet me where I am. Who know that I may cry in the middle of a lunch. Who don’t bat an eye when Julia starts talking about how her Daddy lives in Heaven. Who don’t Baker Act me when I say things like, “I wonder if Heaven is like a giant Starbucks where our loved ones who have passed on meet for coffee.” Who love me and Julia with a ferocity that at times can take my breath away with their tenderness. Who never, ever tell me to stop talking about Wesley even when I know they’ve heard our story 10 times. Who sometimes say “what can I do?” and more often than not just do it without asking. Who are my secret eyes and ears at Julia’s school watching over my sweet girl and reassure me that she is doing OK and is just as neurotic and crazy as her other 4 year old peers. Friends who have embraced me when I needed strong shoulders to hold me up and laughter when I could not bear to shed another tear.
I’m thankful for prayers, for cards, for Instant Messages, for the question of “How are you doing?” that wants an honest answer, not some quick reply. I’m thankful for dinner invitations, those I accept and those I say, “Not today, but how about next week?” I’m grateful for little gestures of kindness from people I have known my whole life and those who I have connected with in the last eight months. I’m thankful for knowing that Julia and I are lifted up in prayers and kind thoughts.
I’m thankful for Julia and her sweet, sweet spirit. I believe she is the bright light in the darkest days I have ever known. She can be that way because if the amazing community of love and support she and I feel enveloping us on a daily basis. She feels safe, secure and loved and that is a village of people far and near who help her feel that way. I’m thankful her memories of her loving and doting father are so vibrant and that Wesley is a part of our daily conversations, his name and presence slipping in and out of our interactions as if he was sitting at the table with us or on the floor coloring Strawberry Shortcake and her cat Custard with us.
I am thankful for days that are sunny because I now notice the way the rays of light shine from above, I am thankful for the moments of quiet reflection where I truly can think on the love Wesley and I shared and be grateful, I am forevermore filled with peace for the life Wesley and I shared and the ways in which he lives on.
So today I will try to find grace, comfort and the spirit of thankfulness surrounded by family and friends, far and near, and think of the happy times shared around a turkey and the meaning of gratitude. Because Wesley was the spirit of gratitude for every detail small and large and that lives on.