“No matter how good or bad you think life is, wake up each day and be thankful for life. Someone somewhere else is fighting to survive”.
As the holidays get closer, I can’t help but to look back on last year and how the holiday season felt for us. We were devastated beyond words and hopelessly overwhelmed with facing what should have been a season of joy and instead was a painful reminder of the child we lost. While we had an understanding family, who was very good about helping us to honor Jack, it was still incredibly hard to make it through. We found out we were pregnant with Jack on Christmas Eve, 2009 and it was a real blessing because it happened not long after my Uncle Carl had tragically taken his own life. It was as if life was renewing itself and healing our hearts. And I think Jack did bring healing in his time with us, which is the first thing I am thankful for this year. That he came at a time when our family needed something to be happy and excited for. I am thankful he gave us 23 weeks and 5 days of hope.
I feel very thankful that we got to spend almost two whole days with our son, while he was alive in the NICU. Many, many of my friends never got to see their child alive or in some cases, at all. We are very fortunate that we witnessed the miracle that was Jack. Literally, the smallest baby I have ever seen and he was beautiful. Even now when I think about him I am amazed and in awe of his beauty.
After Jack couldn’t stay with us, I thought I would never be thankful again. For anything. I felt like I was going to die right along with him. But now, I am thankful that I held on. That even through the pain, sadness and shere agony of those weeks and months, we somehow survived. I am thankful my husband was able to help me hold it together and that we as a couple were able to grow, instead of part. He is a great man, whom I respect more than anyone in this world.
I think I am a more giving person too since everything that has happened and I am thankful for that. During 2010 I gave to more charities than I ever have before and we founded Jack’s Day, to give back to other bereaved families. I thought that somehow by giving of myself to others that I would myself be healed of my wounds. And I think to some extent, it has worked. I’m not ever going to be completely healed, I will always carry a hole in my heart, but that hole is not so wide open anymore.
And then there is Owen. I thank the powers that be every second of every day that I have that boy in my arms. I love him to a depth that I didn’t know still existed within me. He is my reason for living and breathing and for waking up every day. We were terrified throughout our entire pregnancy, it was white knuckled all the way, and I am so, incredibly thankful to the medical team who co-managed us to get him here. And to the NICU staff who saved his lungs and his life, there isn’t an adequate enough phrase to thank them enough. The doctors and nurses in the NICU are miracle workers, every single one of them. They do a really hard job and just like with Jack, sometimes it’s really tragic. I admire their strength to see that kind of loss on a daily basis.
In the end though, I think what I am most thankful for is for our family. Our whole family both extended and not, have been terrific to us as we went through our pregnancy with Owen. Between having to move while on bedrest and then taking care of our house while Owen was in the NICU. To me not being able to work full-time for months due to bedrest, to the stress of both trying to buy a house and having to put our sweet Zoe to sleep, they have all been there. Thank you, each of you, for your help. I can only hope that one day we will be able to repay the kindness and love that you have shown us. I know we are family and that is what family is for, but not all families are as great as ours.
So with that, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope that you can think of a few things you are thankful for, no matter what you are going through or where you are at in this life. There is always hope, remember that.