They say you don’t really know what you have until you lose it. That loss halts us and forces us to look at our lives differently when the rug underneath of us has been stained with tears. It’s sad that for most of us, loss is often what it takes to truly live and begin to breathe our day-to-day blessings. It is an ache that sits in our souls. A yearning for the what-would-have-beens.
That’s my story anyway.
I began reading One Thousand Gifts last weekend in Dallas. I’ve wanted to for a long time, but couldn’t make myself until this autumn. I sat in the hallway of the hotel with tears springing up in my eyes. Ann begins the book writing the details of her sister’s accidental death as a child. How that marked her life. How that one day forever changed their family and altered their story permanently. I don’t know how you do that with a pen. How you weave words together to describe such a pain. How desperately I’ve wanted to do that with my own. Wanted to get that January day in 2010 out of my mind, and shifted onto paper.
But Ann did. And it was healing for me to read someone write so plainly about the ugliness, and the beauty of loss.
You may have noticed a common thread here on this blog – finding beauty in the everyday. Loss is why. At 20 years old in the nursing home, spoon-feeding my grandmother her lunch every day, I think I saw beauty for the first time. Not the college kind of sun-tanned backs and girls in short shorts. Or the date kind in styled hair and red ruby lips. Or the family kind of flawless sunday duds. No. I saw life wrapped up in wrinkles, and stories in gray hairs. I saw a mind made richer with memories, though faculties had long gone. I saw joy in a heart that had lived, daily in service of others. And it hit me for the first time then: life is the everyday. Just added up into one long story.
How I wanted my life story to be full. How I wanted mine to be laced with living. The kind where you aren’t hung up by fear and insecurity. The kind where you know your passions and you pursue them. The kind where you wait when God closes the doors. And you run with arms flailing when they open. The one where you breathe in the scents of babies and toddlers and the one where you cuddle way-too-big children. The one where you dance in your skivvies and sing at the top of your lungs. And you kiss, and you hug, and you say a thousand I-love-you’s to the ones that have your heart.
The one where you utter a thousand thanksgivings. For this is your life.
Psalm 100:4 ~ “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.”