Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude in the Face of Loss

Saying Thank You to a Friend

It’s hard to be grateful sometimes. Brat-like, I often want to stomp my feet, spit, and rage at the very unfairness of life. I often want to say, “No thank you. I’ll walk this easier path, the sunlit one with bird song and flowers and butterflies à la Disney before the wicked stepmother or evil fairy shows up. Show up she will, though, in spite of my insistence that the path remain rose-petal-strewn, cloud-free, and scented with every blessing I could ever imagine.
When those dark clouds and evil fairies show up, I want to turn and run in the opposite direction. But it’s blocked—such is life, and I must grit my teeth, steady my nerves, and push forward.
During that push forward, gratitude isn’t often apparent. Some experiences simply demand one foot in front of the other until the journey ends. Other experiences, however, are a chance to transcend whatever life has presented and we’re given a chance to say thank you and walk with gratitude—and more important, love.
My dear sister walks that journey this season of gratitude as she attends to her best friend whose life is ebbing away. It’s heart-wrenching to hear her pain. It breaks me to listen as she steps toward loss. She spends every moment she can with her friend and watches that precious life move toward its end. She does this because of enduring love. She does this because every moment she spends with her friend is a chance to say thank you, to express her deepest gratitude for all her friend has been and continues to be for her.
As my sister looks this loss square in the face day after day, she prays, she comforts, she loves. And all the time, she is whispering, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for this greatest of gifts I have received in being Mary’s friend.”

Thanksgiving, 2011 -- Mary is wearing the orange blouse and my sister is wearing red.

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