Even In This Time, Be Thankful
November 25, 2020
In any other year, kitchens are already looking like a war room preparing for the great day. Recipe books are retrieved and researched. Lists of foods to be brought by family and guests are closely watched.
But this isn’t any average year. The coronavirus was announced like an enemy without a clear definition, like a thief in the night, a sci-fi character with bloodlust but no physical characteristics. The hope for a short-lived threat has been treated as an empty hope with no clear end date, a battle with no clear objective or goal. It could be easy to say there is no hope. But that would be missing out on the events of life that occur with or without an invisible threat.
I admit spending time being a little cliche. Thanksgiving is approaching. What am I thankful for? I continue to find the progression rather interesting; Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas (a time of giving), followed by the end of the year and beginning of the next. But how do you keep your head up when life has a constant changing set of expectations? How do you keep your head up when you are thrust into life events that are not fun or pleasant?
One of the hardest parts of life is confronting the end of a life. It is even more difficult when the life lost was a close relationship, and the departure is in the approach to the end of year holidays. It sounds like life has gone from grey to black. Questions of “Why?” And “What next?” Will occur. Where does the sunlight come from? It is a question that will be necessarily pursued to seek some level of recovery.
When our experience was still fresh, I read through the book of Job. In some respects, it is the perfect novel. A perfect life, a supernatural contest, major conflict, a hint of recovery, and another round of assaults finally peaking with both worlds recovering. It sounds like a dime store novel if that is all that is in the book. But that misses one of many lessons. One of the lessons I quickly learned is the importance of relationships. The friends who met Job were as varied as the perception of grief, from blaming him to questioning God, even the silent treatment. Friends don’t have to have the answers. It is hard to have the answers when it is difficult to compose the questions.
When the life you valued — the children, cousins, aunts, uncles, monetary success — is suddenly little more than smoldering ash, you find yourself in a place you cannot walk alone. The journey is completed with the support of friends, of family, of faith seen completed.
We recently attended a memorial, better said a celebration of life because even in their grief, the family chose to focus on the good times, the memories of when the departed was still part of the living. It was like a family reunion where bloodlines didn’t mean as much as relationship. There were tears as much as there was laughter and jokes. Some traveled hundreds of miles while others were within walking distance. The tables of food seemed endless from across the room.
The lesson is to celebrate now, and the memories of those gone.