Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I hope you are spending today with your family, eating great food and celebrating this holiday. I sure am, soaking it up. But, there's also something heavy on my heart today: almost a year ago my cousin Jenny passed away. Today is her birthday, and I've been thinking about her family and about how holidays can be so hard for some of us.
|Jenny, who I always thought was the coolest girl in the world.|
There have been many holidays (days of all kinds, really) in the 19 years since my sister died that seemed like nothing more than a black hole. The last thing I wanted to do was celebrate, and it was salt in the wound that everyone around me was happy, and I couldn't be.
Some of you might be feeling that way today.
If not, and you're good, please shut me down and go have some fun. But for those of you missing your dear ones today, I’m here to tell you, it gets better. Possibly you might not believe me, or maybe a part of you doesn't even want it to. Being sad today is part of how you remember that he or she is gone. But trust me, learning to enjoy today doesn't mean you have forgotten yesterday. I hope eventually you will agree with me that there’s so much in this world to be thankful for. For me, it’s the time I had with my precious beloved sister, and my Grandmother, and my cousin. People I have loved and lost but whose influence on me, whose impact on this world, whose presence remains. People who I still love, and who I believe I will see again. Today, I am so thankful for a God that makes that possible, and also for a love so big that this kind of hurt is even possible, and for a God that is always, truly, healing love.
To my dear sweet cousin Jenny: I remember you today. You were absolutely sparkling. Everyone who knew you saw it, your life and energy illuminated the world around you, from the time you were a little girl until the end. When we were little, I wanted to be just like you: beautiful, sassy, amazing. When you won beauty pageants, I wanted to be like you all over again…and when you became an awesome mom I found out there were even more ways to aspire to be like you. You were a beautiful person, a great sister, daughter, wife and mother. And on your birthday, I am giving thanks for you.
And that’s all I want to say today. I grieve. If you are here with me, you get it. But this too: even in this place there is a powerful, amazing, redemptive hope. I'm thankful, and I want that for you, too.