This was a difficult Thanksgiving for our family. There were tears as we grieved together, but there was laughter and joy as well. The happier moments I’ll share later this week. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Earlier this year my step-grandmother had a stroke. She has mostly recovered from the stroke, but it delayed her hip replacement surgery which means that she is in so much pain she can hardly move. Which meant that instead of our normal Thanksgiving at the beach, everyone came here to Memphis (because she and my grandfather live just outside Memphis). After a year of so much traveling, it was great for us not to travel, but a little sad not to all be staying together in one big house. But for us, it was more important to be together during the day (even staying at different homes at night) than it was for only some of us to go down to the beach. But we hated seeing her in so much pain. To know she is suffering so much and there’s just so little that can be done for her. My heart just breaks for her and my grandfather during this time. We knew going into this Thanksgiving that it would be sad, but we had no idea how much more was coming.
The weekend before Thanksgiving my little sister called me from China. It’s her story to tell so I won’t go into details, but she spent three hours on the phone that night telling us why she was about to break up with her boyfriend. It wasn’t long ago that they were making plans for a life together and now, the relationship is over. My heart just breaks for her. She is literally on the other side of the planet and has no family there to love on her. She has lost her best friend and all the hopes for a future with him are now shattered. I hate that she is going through this, but more than anything I hate that she is alone. Oddly enough I sent her a random care package a little over a month ago (mail takes a loooong time to get there) and it happened to arrive just a couple of days after she broke up with her boyfriend. It was a random perfect timing thing that I was so grateful for. Our family grieves with her over a relationship that meant so much to her. And our hearts break for her as she deals with this so far away from her support system.
And then on the Monday before Thanksgiving, we received heart wrenching news. Christopher’s brother & sister-in-law (Michael & Katy) had just found out they had lost their baby. Their little girl was stillborn the night before Thanksgiving. There are no words for the grief we felt when we found out. And no words we could offer them for comfort in a time like that. We offered to come down and be with them, but the way we could best serve them was to take care of Christopher & Michael’s parents. Michael and Katy had originally planned to spend the holiday with the boys’ parents so when they found out they lost the baby, they were concerned about the parents being alone over Thanksgiving. Glad to have a tangible way to help out, we were more than happy to have Christopher’s parents join my extended family for Thanksgiving. My mother-in-law needed someone to grieve with (my father-in-law has dementia and doesn’t exactly understand what is going on). And truthfully, having her here helped us as we grieved the loss of our niece. My family was very understanding and heart broken as well, but my mother-in-law felt the loss as acutely as we did.
Christopher and I have lost 4 nieces or nephews (3 of the miscarriages happened before the gender was known). I don’t talk about it here because I try not to share stories that aren’t my own. Even when they impact us so heavily. But since my sister-in-law is sharing her story on her blog, I feel a little more free to talk about it here. You guys know just how much Christopher and I adore our nieces and nephews. We love them with a fierce and protective sort of love. The first time I met my oldest nephew, Christopher was standing there right beside me. He has known every one of them just as long as I have. And he has watched them grow and loved them long before we were ever even married. And with every child that one of our siblings has lost, our hearts have grieved with them. This past week has been no exception. It has been an emotionally difficult Thanksgiving week.
Yesterday morning in church, our pastor wrapped up the last sermon on the series in Revelation he has been preaching (less hell fire and brimstone and a lot more “God Wins” sort of preaching). He was preaching on Revelation 21 & 22. Those might be two of the most encouraging chapters in the Bible. Because in the end – God wins. He makes all things right again. And our pastor even specifically referenced how this part of Revelation echoes Isaiah 65. And as he began to read it, tears started flowing down my face:
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth… I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people. The sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years…” (Isaiah 65:17-25)
Oh how that part touched my heart. There is a day coming when all will be made right. And we will never again lose a niece or nephew or child or friend’s child. When pain and sorrow will be no more. Revelation may seem like it’s all about hell fire and brimstone, but I see hope. Because Jesus wins.
Please be in prayer for our family. For my step-grandmother as she is in so much pain and for my grandfather as he cares for her. For my sister as she suffers heartbreak so far away from family. For my brother-in-law & sister-in-law as they grieve the loss of their daughter. And for our family as we grieve the loss of our niece/granddaughter. Thanks, sweet friends.