We go out to dinner, because we already had the babysitter lined up and the boys are at my parents’ house for the weekend and we both feel like maybe we should get out of the house. Our conversation spins quietly from the silly to the serious. I point out the busboy who behaves like a zombie. I complain about the draft blowing on me. He says he likes my shoes. We try to decide when to tell the boys that their youngest sibling is gone. We sit in silence.
He eats salad doused in French dressing and says how good it is that the boys are gone for the weekend, how much simpler it makes things right now. I know he’s right, but I resist.
I do not want to be thankful right now.
When we lost Elijah three years ago, I survived that grievous loss without bitterness or anger or questioning my faith. In the midst of it I knew He was there.
When Art was in a crash last month, I was able to look at the silver lining and give thanks that no one was hurt, that we had enough money coming from our tax refund to make up the difference between what the insurance company would give us and what a new vehicle would actually cost.
But now– now I don’t want to look on the bright side. I don’t want to have to look on the bright side. It seems like maybe every now and then when “everything comes together” it would be nice for it to all come together for something good.
I spin from quiet shock to feeling almost normal to anger to grief. And I start to feel dizzy and sick with the spinning.
He promises rest, right? Rest for the weary, for the brokenhearted, for the ones bowed and crushed with the weight of this world of death.
I do not want to become bitter. If this grievous season is going to change me, if I must endure the pain, I would like to come through it with beauty, not ugliness.
We finish our meals, pay the bill, walk hand in hand to the van. We need a few things from the store, so we stop at Target and wander around for awhile. I tell him I want to look in the stationery aisle, and he looks at electronics while I browse journals. I have been meaning to pick one up for about a week now.
She says that gratitude will combat bitterness, will give me new eyes, will help me to accept every moment as a gift of beauty. So I bring this journal home and I make up my mind, no matter what my heart says, to be thankful, and to begin the counting of gifts.
I open the blue book to the first page, and I write.
1. Our hands, interlocked.
2. Laughter in spite of pain.
3. Tall glasses filled with cold water.
4. Gentle words from people who love us.
5. Silver linings, always silver linings.