“Don’t just be grateful for comforts in life. Be even more thankful for difficulty”. – Braden
Today, family came in. It’s become a routine to have our Tennessee and West Texas family come together at our home in north Texas for Thanksgiving. Guess it just makes sense logistically. We’re located near the middle between the two. Still, I’m convinced it’s more than mere geography. It’s become a tradition.
Caitlin’s closest cousin, Lena Grace was able to be here which has been an answered prayer. When you’re from a family who got a late start, you get the raw end of the deal. Cait’s cousins are grown and gone for the most part now.
Lena has had a rough life at age 13, but she’s as strong and feisty as a Tennessee mare. When I first met her, she was just a little girl. I still recall her spinning around a pole at the funeral home in Maryville. The occasion was the memorial service for her baby sister who had died within weeks following her birth from a very rare heart condition. When Lena and I first met at the funeral for her baby sister, little did I know the next loss would be my own son.
Death is horrific. Surreal. Devastating. The last thing we consider. Arguably more terrible for the survivors. Today is Thanksgiving. How can survivors even consider giving thanks in such tragic circumstances.
After Braden died, we received hundreds of letters, condolence cards, texts, phone calls, books, and emails. So many reaching into our lives. Today, I’m still reading numerous devotionals and texts from friends. In fact, I can rely upon a text each morning from “brothers” who have remained diligent and unrelenting in their support. There is no word in the dictionary to accurately describe that kind of loyal friendship.
During the first week after that terrible October day, we had a postal delivery to our front porch from Amazon. It was a fairly large package from Tennessee. When we opened it, we were moved to tears. It was a memorial candle sent from a very special young couple who had one child. A son.
We lit the candle immediately and placed it on the kitchen counter, centered among flowers, cards, and keepsakes. Our family believes in and practices traditions. Every holiday, it can be relied upon that we follow the tried and true. Traditions are the way we stay connected to the familiar in a world full of uncertainties.
Tonight, as we began our Thanksgiving tradition with our Tennessee and West Texas family, I lit the memory candle for our son. To most, it would seem a small insignificant thing. To us, it symbolizes Braden remains with us still and he always will.
Tonight I’m thankful to have family, knowing many do not. Thankful for the long list of blessings too often assumed to be somehow earned although they are undeserved. Thankful to know my Creator by His first name and to be certain He knows me. Thankful for friends, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and a community of fellow believers.
In the very midst of the hell we face in this temporary place, I’m grateful to know I will see my son and spend eternity with him. For these things, I am thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.