The first time we went to St. Jude's it was days before Christmas. We had a few visits with the doctors then we were given the okay to leave for a couple of days to spend time with family. A kind young nurse handed me a brown paper bag full of large bottles of medicine I couldn't pronounce. I looked at the bag, then at her, and said, "Merry Christmas to us." Because I didn't know what to say.
The nurse looked like she might cry.
In the last month of Joseph's life we made a few trips back and forth to St. Jude's. We were always looking for fun movies for him to watch in the car to keep his mind off the fact that he would be going to see a doctor.
One of the last movies we found for him was one that I didn't watch much. I would be sitting in the front seat (for most of the drive), Allen driving, and the kiddos in the back. I'd hear bits and pieces and listen to the songs and it sounded nice and he seemed to like it.
On one trip, we had watched something else and he was asking to watch "The shuture has ived!" movie. We were completely perplexed, frantically trying to find it as he was gettting more and more hysterical. I think after a long time we finally figured out he wanted to watch "Meet the Robinsons," which has a song at the very end called "The future has arrived." Phew. We were glad to figure that one out.
It wasn't until after Joseph died that I really watched this movie, and I have to say I really love it. There are some inspiring themes about the importance of failure and trying, love and adoption, and moving forward.
In fact, one of the main themes is "Keep Moving Forward." There are a lot of really creative types in the movie and the main character is an inventor and therefore tries dozens of times before he actually succeeds in making something work. (They even celebrate when someone fails, and dance around with glee saying, "He failed! He failed!") But they don't let failure get them down. It's an opportunity to grow and learn and try again.
After watching it again this Christmas season, I'm wondering if there is a message in it for me?
I think it is vital to remember in love and to keep Joseph as a special part of our family, but I know it's important to move forward with joy as our family is now, with two new members, and one up in heaven. It is a mixture of pain and joy, but we have much to be thankful for.
I feel like God is teaching me lately the joy in giving thanks for the hours we are given, for the "today" we are given, even if it doesn't seem special, even if it is filled with dirty dishes and dirty clothes and messy rooms. It was those ordinary days I had with Joseph that were such precious gifts.
And it is those days now that are such precious gifts, with my children and my husband, my family and friends. There is glory in each day if we have the eyes to see it.
Our June Bug is an example to me in rejoicing in today. She looks so forward to special events (like birthdays, or school days, or gymnastics days), and then when the day finally arrives she can hardly keep her joy from spilling out all over everyone. One day, after many days of us saying "Tomorrow is gymnastics" (because she doesn't quite understand time yet) the day finally came when it was gymnastics. She proclaimed, "Mommy, today is tomorrow!!" She meant that today was the day she had been waiting for.
Maybe today is the day we are all waiting for. Maybe it's the "normal" we might wish we could go back to after a tragedy. Maybe it's the day we will miss in 20 years when our house is so quiet you could hear a pin drop. And maybe that person you have today (who might be currently driving you crazy) is the one you will miss after they're gone from this life.
I'm hopeful that this year we will choose to give thanks for all our many, many blessings and even give thanks for things that don't feel like blessings. What feels like punishment could actually be a gift. And what feels like a plan gone wrong could be God's greatest plan for good. And that we'll keep moving forward in faith, whether we have it all figured out or not.
"You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall."