i choose gratitude

I’ve been thinking for weeks about what I would write today on Jackson’s Angel Day. Something inspiring, something that might help others, but I can’t find the words. Not today.

Today, I’m tired. Grieving for four years has taken a toll on my body, mind and spirit. I’m not the same person I was before Jackson moved to Heaven. Even though most days I choose joy, the heartache is constant. I can’t brush it aside. I can’t ignore it. I have to allow my body to feel the pain otherwise it would tear me apart.

I often read online or hear from others that “it will get easier with time”. Maybe for them it does, but what I’ve found is that yes, the pain changes with time, but it never heals. The hurt is there every single day, no matter what. I’ve learned how to mask the pain, but one thin layer under the smile is a heart torn in two.

At the beginning of the school year, I started working in the library at Kate’s elementary school. I just work a few hours a week. Most of my time is spent checking library books in and checking library books out.

Since I started, hundreds of books have passed through my hands without a second glance. But last month, a sweet little girl, with pigtails in her hair, handed me a pile of books to check out. One by one I scanned them as usual, until I reached this one.


I froze in awe, staring at the cover for a moment. I looked up and said with wonder, “Oh, I used to love this book.”

Seeing that pale pink and blue cover with the little etched badger waving her bread and jam instantly brought me back to a simpler time. A sense of peace washed over my body and evoked so many different emotions.

That first-grader definitely thought I was crazy.

When I was done checking out the students’ books, I searched for another story in the collection. I needed to see it again. I didn’t want to lose that feeling.

Oh, how I miss the days when I didn’t have a care in the world. The ease of life flowed effortlessly. The days before cancer invaded families, anxiety kicked in, and the realization that bad things could really happen to good people.

Sometimes I long for those carefree days again. Life is hard these days for most people. I certainly feel it.

But back then life was good. In fact, I dare say it was great.

Life is still good now, it’s just different. And sometimes I don’t like it.

I can’t go back to the simpler times. And I don’t really want to. I’ll cherish my childhood memories, but I  realize that these hard times are worth something, too. Without the struggles, without the pain, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t have grown the way I have. My faith would be stagnant because I wouldn’t have had to rely on God to get me through the valley. He’s caught me on the many days I’ve fallen, and he’s wrapped His loving arms around me.

Today is still hard. And I’m still tired, but as I’m sitting here, my phone is lighting up with texts from loved ones. People lifting our family up in prayer and sending us love from all over. I feel it. I feel the love and prayers. And I’m grateful.

Today I choose gratitude. I’m grateful for the pain that has drawn me closer to God. I’m thankful for family and friends who envelop us in love and help carry the pain and burden of losing our son. And I’m grateful for the almost two years with Jackson, who continues to teach me daily about unconditional love.

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“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18