I'm learning how to say thank you over again.
I approach Him with joy in my heart, but the missing comes in and scares me. It comes in and overtakes the way I'm profoundly thankful, deeply changed, almost unrecognizable in my gratitude. I'm practicing thanks instead of fear, hoping joy will win out the battle between broken pieces of my heart.
I feel like a child with a Mother soul inside of me that asks if I said thank you over and over again. Sometimes my answer is sometimes shy, diverted eye contact that means no. And other times, I nod with much excitement because I did.
But saying thank you is hard to remember to do after so many years of begging please.
I talked about this in October, talked about my desperate need for a timeline, for an end, for the happily ever after that Jesus promised my Dad on that horrible wooden cross. I talked about how we needed an end to the suffering for all of us. The end came in December -in all it's grit and glory- and my please prayers vanished.
It was simple to say thank you then. Simple to remember the goodness, to see the bow He'd tied so delicately around our battle, to think on the beautiful things done and said as he passed. But now, now there's a challenge, an emptiness that blares bright in my soul without him.
I'm learning to say thank you for the missing and the promise and the reunion that faces us one day.
But I'm guarded in saying those words to Him. I'm guarded because I want no more loss, no more disappointment, no rock to hit my fragile, porcelain self. This too shall pass; this feeling and worry, this struggle and story, but for now, I'm learning to manage a tenuous thank you.
I'm learning to say thank you for the death and the life, the disease and the losing.
I hate the word dementia from its beginning to its end. I shatter inside to know families will continue to face this disease and their loss will be as searing as ours. My strength is in shambles imagining this plight on any person. And yet, the glory He revealed in those last days sang a lullaby of purpose over us. It reminded us that every person -no matter how ill- is doing Kingdom work; my dad is no exception. And so, I'm learning to manage a bold, yet careful thank you.
I'm learning to say thank you.
A thank you for the words from his caregivers in those last few days. Words that expressed the way they loved him, tears the dripped from their eyes onto his face, hands that reached out for him despite his ailing state. Those words will be diamonds forever guarded in the safety of my heart.
A thank you for the bowls of soup -some literal, others not so- dropped in our kitchens and our hearts in the wake of his passing. They warmed the coldest parts of us, parts that were dormant and quiet in the face of dementia. They sustained us, removed responsibility from us, and allowed for real mourning.
A thank you for the man who fought with strength and charm from the very first days to the last quiet moments. A man who was always the Super kind to me, but only grew more so in his later days. A man who couldn't have changed my life any more had he tried.
A thank you for provision only a Good, Good Father could provide. Free venti coffees, trays of bagels, scripture readings, John 10:10, Kleenex and its softness, Ginger Ale, morphine, blankets, and oversized chairs. He was there with us, listening to our minute needs and tending to them. He is real, He is good, and He is more than any words I can manage.
For that, that and so much more, thank you.