Gratitude to Hold Onto (Day 3)

The skin on her hand was paper thin, like the bones were shining through.  As I held it, I wished I wasn’t there waiting.  And waiting.

My two young kids were running around in the room outside our hospice room.  Their energy and volume in the side waiting room juxtaposed the real waiting room’s silence as the rhythm of Grandma’s breath would fall in sync with mine and then stop for just a bit and restart.  

The other people waiting in the room had eyes that looked tight, like a rubber band stretched one too many times.  

I sat there and thought, strangely, of how it feels to be really pregnant.  With both pregnancies I was ready, over-ripe ready, to meet my new kiddos, and still I waited, big and uncomfortable, in that space of not being in control.

In that instance we waited for life.  This was a different waiting.

I wasn’t, I guess, scared of my Grandma dying.  I think the waiting, the not being in control, is what scared me most.  This wasn’t something we could organize and fit into a neat box, somehow label with color-coded highlighters, and keep nice and tidy.  

The not being in control stuff, scares me.

But as I held grandma’s hand, it was something concrete to anchor down on, some way to hold on, some way order the chaos, and maybe even take hold of myself in a world that felt off balance.

So where does gratitude fit in all this?  If you’re hurting like my family was in that time of waiting, singsongy thanksgiving is not what’s needed.  In the moments of deep unknowing, PollyAnna dare not ask us to smile at the blessings of life.  

So what do we do?  How do we live gratitude in spaces like these? 

When there is nothing else to do, we hold on.  We mine for thanks.  We hold that hand and thank God for it’s warmth.  And when it turns cold, we say thanks for the warmth it held and for the other hands holding on together in the room.

Thankfulness dares to say that death will not win. 

No, I could not keep my Grandma from dying, but we can keep ourselves from living.  To honor the memory of those gone before, is to live in a way that brings life, to teach my littles how to treat one another with kindness, to encourage and hope when it feels ridiculous and un-cool, to pay attention to the people in my life, to hold onto them too.

The living brings us back.

Today’s gratitude challenge is to say thanks for three people who have mattered in your life.  Whether they’ve passed on or moved away, let’s hold them in our hearts and say thanks.

I’m no gymnast, but I’ve heard it said that to spin and not get dizzy you must lock your eyes on something fixed.  Find one point and stare at it.  So, I’m staring at gratitude for 30 days.  If you haven’t yet, will you join me?  Click here or here to print off the 30-day challenge workbook.

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. (1 John 1:1-4)

To get the 30-day challenge delivered to your in-box, subscribe below.  Thanks!

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