Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful

Death has a way of bringing life into focus. This morning I was thinking how I used to say, "I'm such a boring Christian. I never used to be a drug-addict living on the streets and Jesus saved me from a life of crime." Nothing dramatic. Jesus just quietly revealed himself to me through my sister, and I just found Him beautiful and believable. It was more the "I wanted what I saw she had" thing. I saw how her life changed dramatically one semester at college and it was just evident it was a supernatural thing.

Anyway, now I feel like maybe my story is a bit more dramatic. I guess not many people say they had to say goodbye to their 4 yr. old son due to a brain tumor, but they still believe in God. And not only that, but that they are more convinced of God's goodness and faithfulness because of it. Please don't misunderstand me; I do have feelings of abandonment by God, unfairness at what Joseph had to endure, etc., but this whole journey has proved God to me more than a hundred sermons could. Because if I could have walked away from God I definitely would have. But I couldn't and I can't. It is just not in my power. Losing Joseph made me realize that my security in God is not based on me; it's completely based on him--His faithfulness, His pursuing, His providing. The only thing I offered God for a long time is sadness, complaints, my own sin and pleas for mercy. But He hasn't let me go.

I read the book "A Severe Mercy" not too long ago. It is just a wonderful picture of a loving marriage, but at the end he has some great conversations with C.S. Lewis on grief and loss.

Lewis writes:

"It is remarkable (I have experienced it), that sense that the dead person is. And also, I have felt, is active: can sometimes do more for you now than before--as if God gave them, as a kind of birthday present on arrival, some great blessing to the beloved they have left behind."

I thought it was so neat to think of God passing on a blessing to those left behind. For me, the gift has not been a sense of Joseph's presence or being, but I do feel a deep contentment even amidst missing Joseph. I feel like his gift to me is the desire/ability to appreciate each day, no matter how mundane or draining it might be. I look back at days that I wished away and just don't ever want to repeat that mistake. They may have been exhausting days, but they were the days of Joseph's life.

My pace of life is a lot slower now. I will sit and smell June's hair and cuddle with her for a little longer, remembering how quickly these days go by. This is going to sound crazy, but I'm even a little sad that she will stop waking up in the middle of the night soon. I remember going in to Joseph when he would wake up at night while he was on steroids and it wasn't fun to be woken up, but I was so grateful he was alive and was not sure how many more nights we would have to cuddle and "hold handies" together. I used to get so annoyed when either of the kids would wake up at night, and while it isn't my favorite thing to do, I couldn't believe that at one point that was my biggest complaint. How blessed I was!

Even though I have experienced every parent's worst fear, I am grateful for the change in perspective I gained from it. I don't think I ever truly grasped how blessed I was to have children. I feel like God has given me a deep gratitude and contentment being a mom, something I didn't have when I first began this journey. That is the gift I feel Joseph left behind for me, and I'm thankful for it.

25 comments:

Kim F. said...

Thanks, Gillian. I needed those words today.

Kim

Sam said...

Gill-o, thanks a million, sister. Very grateful for your words, and for the appreciation of God's gifts that your story has brought.

Anonymous said...

Gillian - love you guys very much. -scott cunningham

Brooke said...

Thanks Gill. I have to say that experiencing Jospeh's loss - mostly through this website and also his funeral and knowing you - has given me much the same gift, although certainly not to the same degree. I am so very thankful that you have continued to share what's on your heart. I feel like your words have helped to make me a better mother; one who can enjoy all the days, even during a very stressful season in our lives. Thanks again.

Sara said...

Thanks for sharing, Gill. I love hearing your perspective on this. And thank you for your encouragement (and yummy, yummy food)! I agree with Brooke. I've thought of Joseph often as I've held baby Jack. Joseph left a lot of people with the blessing of appreciating even the tough times! Thanks again for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Gillian, as always, you've brought me to tears. These tears are tears of joy and loss. Tears of thankfulness and grief. Tears of helplessness and hope. Thank you for sharing your heart and for pointing me to the Cross.
Love, Mimi
Sit and cuddle June! All we have is this moment.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I've been reading and commenting on your blog for awhile now. Unfortunately, two of my friends have received the awful news of brain tumors. One friend's little boy has an ATRT malignant tumor the other has brain tumors secondary to a genetic condition. Anyway, I am so heavy hearted for them, but they have (as you have too) made me try to really live each day appreciating and loving the time I have with my son. Tonight, my son is a little under the weather so he got to lay on my lap and watch Thomas the Train for a pretty good while after bedtime. As I sat thinking.... will we be up several times tonight, when is he going to go to bed, etc I couldn't help but feel so lucky that we have a mere little fever, that life is good, and I'm so happy to sit on the couch holding my sweet boy. And for that, I really am so thankful to you. I would love to hear an update on that sweet baby girl!

trmills said...

Gill, I'm in tears. I'm going to go snuggle with my boy now.

Jennifer said...

Wowzers. Beautifully written as usual. Inspirational and moving. You have been given the gift of ministering to others too. Just in case you didn't know that. Thanks for sharing.

Jon, Ashley, Mackenzie,and Mackayla said...

Gillian,
I came across your blog last year, on my daughter's 3rd birthday, Aug. 16. I check in every week, and pray for you and your family. That first night, and many since, I've been here in front of the computer, completely broken.

I've never commented before, but after reading this post tonight, I felt I had to. Because of your story, I hold my children tighter. When my now 4 year old was an infant, I sometimes wished it would go faster--I resented the late night wakings, wanted her to entertain herself so I could get chores done. Because of your story, I now often have laundry piled up, dishes in the sink, and not the first worry about it, so that I can spend every moment possible with my girls. I have a 6month old daughter now as well. I just sit and hold her and enjoy her--and the late night wakings. I have become a better mother, because of your story, because of Joseph.

Here in GA, another mother's heart breaks for you and the loss of Joseph. And rejoices that you have a son to be very proud of.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Ashley

Anonymous said...

Gillian - you have a wonderful way of writing. I wish I also had your patience, but there is no doubt that what you and Joseph have experienced has made me more forgiving and thankful for my own children even when they drive me up the walls!
Suzanne

Christy said...

Thanks, Gill.

Sarah-Jane said...

I am so glad that I get to be your sister. You are an amazing encouragement to me in all ways.
I love you

Nana said...

Gill-o, Wow .Iam so proud to be your Mom .I am so grateful to God for you.Indeed Iam am more thankful for all our family now and for the people God puts in my life since Joseph went to be with Jesus.Iam so glad that you are taking life slowly and treasuring all the precious moments.Well Family you have to support me in my decision to "Home College" David.No seriously I am treasuring every second he is here in less than 2 years we will be empty nesters!! .Gillian thank you for those wonderful words of wisdom may we all "Be still and know that He is God" I love you very much ..Nana -Bear

Lauren (Klein) Dickstein said...

Love this line:
"They may have been exhausting days, but they were the days of Joseph's life."
I'm calling my Grandma right now. Thanks Gill :)

Lynn T said...

Beautifully written Gillian. Love you sis

Heinzfeet said...

Wow, Gillian. I am so amazed at the window into your soul you allow us to see. Thank you for sharing your pain so that we might get a glimpse of true joy. You have a depth and a richness that goes beyond what I could write in words. I've always loved you for that. I love that now the whole world can see that. I love you my treasured friend. I'm thankful for the many sweet memories we've shared and thankful to have been able to see into your inner being and watch you grow in your faith. Think back to those youth camp days when all we tried to do was cram as many marshmallows into our mouths as we could! Amazing what life and time can do. So thankful to call you my friend.

Sarah-Jane said...

I think Lauren and I are on the same page. I loved that line too. It just got me.
These are the days of life. I often wish them to be different. but, they are what they are. The difficulty is cherishing them, and accepting them.

do you know how many Ward Melvillle people read this...crazy. really crazy.

suzebab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
abbiegrace said...

Oh Gillian, I love your words in this post. The part about smelling June's hair just a little bit longer was just so beautiful to me. Thank you for ministering to me by your words.

courtney said...

Thanks, Gillian. Love your words and wisdom.

Randi said...

Gill,
I needed to hear that. Thank you for being a good servant, my friend. Missing Joseph, but know God is still using him and you in marvelous ways.
Love,
Randi

Carrigan Family said...

Gillian, I can't find the words to tell you how much your words have ministered to me tonight - it brings this scripture to mind - it is one of my favorites.

"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Isaiah 45:3

Through Addie having down syndrome and Ryan's brain tumor - I have found His promise to give us those treasures in the darkness to be true. I have been struggling with so many fears as of late - through your words, He is reminding me to "let go and just be" - easier said than done.

Praying for you always .....
Mary Lee Carrigan

Brea said...

Beautiful thoughts, Gillian. I have been continually amazed at how God has sustained you and given you joy in the midst of grief. It has been a testimony to His faithfulness. Thank you for the reminder to live each day in gratitude and thankfulness, even the hard ones.

Anonymous said...

God bless you guys.