It was before sunrise when I woke up this morning. The only light in our bedroom was the soft glow from the little lighthouse nightlight on JD3’s chest-of-drawers. In spite of the swish-whirr of the ceiling fan, the low hum of the heat pump, and the not-so-low snores of Prissy, our little Shi Tzu, the room was quiet and still. Reluctant to be fully awake, I burrowed deeper into the covers, warmed by the knowledge that, for now at least, all was right in my little world.
My sweet baby girl was home and sleeping in her own bed. Herman, her big white cat, was snuggled up close to her side. Keeping watch at the foot of the bed was Gracie, our goofy, immensely lovable 60lb puppy. Percy, our wild-child kitty-cat, had refused to come inside the night before and was asleep in his secret warm place outside. In our room, the previously mentioned noisy one had made herself into the small ball of fur that was snoozing in front of the bookcase. And sleeping beside me, hiney-to-hiney, was JD3, the man that I love and am growing old with. All the pieces to the jigsaw puzzle that is my life were in place.
As I lay there, trying to convince my bladder that I really didn’t need to be up yet, JD3 stirred and turned over. He tucked his knees into the bend of mine, threw his arm around me and settled back into sleep. It was no big deal, something married people do all the time. I’m not even entirely sure he was aware of it. But I knew that in that simple touch was the essence of everything that I am most grateful for in this life.
I know that I have family and friends who are always ready to throw their arms around me or hold my hand or hug me or pat me on the back or just sit beside me and make me feel safe and loved and part of something good. I have sisters who make me feel like I belong when they sit beside me and we talk about stuff; our childhood, our children, other people’s children who aren’t quite as special as ours are; just stuff. I have a mother who hugs me good-bye and makes me know she’s glad I was there and she hopes I’ll be back soon. I have a husband who makes me feel treasured by simply putting his hand on my knee as we ride along in the car, (or by throwing his arm across me in his sleep.) I have a daughter whose good-night kiss can right all the wrongs of the day. I have nieces and nephews whose hugs just plain make me happy.
What’s really exceptional (at least in my opinion) is that I have friends who give this kind of love long distance! These are the friends who held my hand as I worried about Anna after that awful wreck. They sit beside me every day and we talk about our families, our homes, our hopes for the future. If I’m having a bad day, their words make me feel like I’ve been held close in what one friend calls a “big ol’ boobie crushing hug,” the best kind of hug there is. With gentle pushes, they encourage me to try things I’ve never done before and then pat me on the back when I succeed. The fact that we’re so far apart seems insignificant. They’re my best friends and I’m oh, so grateful for them.
Yes, I’m thankful for my family. And I’m thankful for my friends. But what I’m most thankful for is God‘s presence in my life. During hard times, He wraps me close in His arms and, while I’m crying on His shoulder, He says, “Don’t worry. I’m here and I’ll never leave you.” He holds my hand when I’m walking through dark places. When I need direction, He puts His arm around me and says, “Listen, Bee. This is what I want you to do for me.” (Sometimes, I wish He’d just talk a little louder.) When I mess up, as I often do, He hooks my chin with His finger, tilts my face up to look at Him and says, “No, that’s not how I would have you do it. But I love you and I forgive you. Just try and do it my way from now on.” And I do try. I try every day to be the kind of person he wants me to be.
Thanksgiving Day is now officially over. Anna, Gracie and Herman are settled in for the night in Anna’s room. Percy, of course, is outside in his secret place. In a few minutes, I will turn off the lights here in the kitchen and head off to bed, where JD3 and Prissy are waiting for me. The room will be dark except for the glow from the little nightlight. I’ll crawl beneath the covers and hear the swish-whirr of the ceiling fan, the hum of the heat pump and the snores of my beloved little dog. As I lay there in the stillness, I’ll be warmed by the knowledge that all is right in my little world. I’ll know that I’ve been blessed beyond measure, and as I fall asleep, I’ll know that, for me, thanks giving day will never be over, but will come again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And every day.
It’s been two years since I wrote this. Once again, Thanksgiving Day is officially over. Anna , Herman and even Percy have settled in for the night in Anna‘s room. Soon, I’ll turn off the lights here in the kitchen and JD3 and I will head off to our bedroom, where Gracie, the 80lb Wonder Dog, will curl up in her big-girl bed on the floor beside me. The room will be dark except for the glow from the little stained-glass turtle lamp in the corner. I’ll crawl beneath the covers and listen to the swish-whirr of the ceiling fan as it sings along with the silky, soothing guitar music coming from the CD player. In my heart I will hear the snores of my little dog and I’ll wish that she were still here with me.
As I lay there in the stillness, I’ll think that even though life has changed in two years, it’s still so much the same; that in spite of hurts and losses and difficult times, I am still blessed beyond measure. And I still thank God for them every day.