giving thanks

giving thanks

I feel empty. This time of year, that shouldn’t be the case, but when you’ve lost part of your heart, it’s inevitable.  I’m making it through this holiday season one step at a time, but it’s hard. My shoes are heavy and filled with so much grief that it makes each step feel like I’m carrying a one ton weight.
Obviously, Thanksgiving was tough. Eric, Kate and I were in Louisiana visiting family for the holiday. and everywhere I looked I was reminded that a huge part of our family isn’t with us. I would watch Kate running around with her cousins, and I envisioned Jackson right there with them with a huge smile on his face. He would have been right in the middle of the action doing whatever the big kids were doing. He would have been making them laugh, chasing them around the house and giggling up a storm. There were little ones all around, and as much as I love all of the children in my life, it hurts that Jackson wasn’t partaking in the festivities.
The holidays have taken on an entirely different meaning for me. I’ve really been reflecting on what’s important. It’s no longer about the turkey, oyster dressing and wine. Thanksgiving and Christmas are more than spending time with family. It’s about being thankful but at a different level. It’s not just saying you’re thankful, but truly believing it. And it’s not just one day, it should be every day. I want to live my life and treasure each precious moment. I was really focusing on that with Kate and Jackson for months prior to April 20. As hard as it is, I want to have a grateful heart for all the good in my life, so that slowly my heart will fill back up. Unfortunately, it will never be whole again.

I am thankful for Eric. My husband, my love, my rock, my best friend. He has seen me at my lowest of lows, yet he loves me anyway. He has carried me through almost eight months when I couldn’t stand. I could not get through this without him by my side. Losing a child is the hardest thing a couple could ever endure, yet we are holding tight to our love for each other, our faith and our family. It’s not easy. When you walk through the valley, your relationship is tested to its ultimate limit.  But for us, it always comes back to love. I love this man more today than I ever have, and I am thankful and proud to call him my husband.

I am thankful for Kate. She is my life. She is my reason for living. She keeps me laughing and smiling and bringing joy to my life. She is the strongest six-year-old you will ever meet. She loves Jackson as if he was still here and talks about him daily. She misses her brother and has her moments of sadness, yet she has a deeper understanding and resilience that boggles my mind, and I admire her for that.

I am thankful for Jackson and the two best years of my life. Jackson and I had a special connection. I don’t know if that’s a mother and son relationship, or if it has to do with the time we spent together in the hospital, but we had a bond like no other. He brought joy to my life that I had never known before. My heart aches to hold him one more time, to wrap my arms around him and never let him go. I miss my little buddy more than words could ever express, but I would never take back the precious time I did have with him. I am forever thankful for my baby boy and all that he brought to my life.

I am thankful for our families. They have loved us unconditionally. I truly do not know how we could walk through this darkness without our family. They are our strongest supporters and have been there for us every step of this journey. Their hearts hurt like ours do. They lost an important part of their lives, too. But they are always there to remind us how much we are loved.

I am thankful for my friends. In the darkest days of your life, you will really learn who your true friends are. I am so blessed to have some of the greatest people in my life who have been by my side. I’m thankful for my lifelong friends, that I’ve known since I was a child, who flew to be by my side and help carry me through these months. I’m thankful for friends that I had lost touch with because of moves and life, yet, they continue to keep in touch and send me uplifting messages that give me an ounce of strength when I seem to need it most. I am thankful for my friends that I have made since we’ve lived in Oconomowoc. They are the ones who come knocking on my door and are with me in the moments when no one else can be there. They have supported and loved my family like their own. And I am thankful for the friends whom I have never even met who lift us up in daily prayer.

I am thankful for the moments Jackson gives me that lets me know he’s ok. These moments are getting fewer and farther between, but when they come, I treasure them. Just the other week Kate was playing with her cousins. When I walked in the room they were building a fort (which is something Jackson loved to do with his sister). They had the radio blaring a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace”. That song was sung at Jackson’s service and has a special place in our hearts. I just know that was Jackson telling me he’s here with us. There’s no coincidence that they had the radio on, to that particular station, and “Amazing Grace” was playing, while they were building a fort, when I happened to walk in the room. I cherish these signs and hold them dear to my heart.

I am thankful for my faith. When I am at my weakest moment, I turn to God. My faith sees me through. My faith gives me the hope and knowledge that I will spend eternity with Jackson in Heaven. I am thankful that Jesus was born and died for us so that I can cling to this promise on my worst days.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18