As I sat in the ER waiting room yesterday, I noticed the turkey decorations above the check-in desk. My mind flew back to thanksgiving week 7 years ago, when we sat hopeful and thankful – awaiting a positive result on our first pregnancy test.
Thanksgiving was particularly poignant that year: we imagined turkey with toddlers in the years to come; sticky hands smearing clouds of molten marshmallow off the sweet potato pie and onto dimpled chins. As the cellular blastocyst of life in my belly grew by the minute, my imagination expanded as quickly: picturing my husband with a bundle in his arms, tired and happy smiles, the joy of introducing our little one to ice-cream, to music, to friendship. Thanksgiving indeed.
Weeks later, we sat in the waiting room again: anxious and subdued, bleeding and still yet hopeful that the little life which had begun was still hanging on. We returned home ashen and devastated. Our little one was not meant to be. Our thanksgiving treasure was gone, and yet in our grief – we found ourselves strangely thankful to have had that little one for those few weeks. ‘Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. We did not have a baby, but we had become parents. I wept in church that Sunday as we sang the refrain “You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say – Lord, blessed be your name.” Thanksgiving indeed. By habit. By necessity.
On the night before thanksgiving the following year, we welcomed our little girl into the world: a wondrous contradiction of blood and glory in my arms. We ate turkey and stuffing and pecan pie in a sterilized bed that folded in half, and breathed our thanks for the little one that Made It. Thanksgiving indeed.
I cradled that same girl in the ER yesterday as we looked at the paper turkeys on the wall. She braved the x-rays, and sobbed through the splinting of her broken elbow. I sang, I hummed, I consoled, I cried, I hugged and I harnessed all my silly for my brave little slip of a girl. But I also gave thanks: for the life we’ve got to share with her for 6 years, for this being our first ER visit ever in our 11 years of cumulative parenting, for broken elbows rather than broken spines, for health care, and for the sweet mercies of God’s grace which I find anew every time I’m waiting for a doctor. Thanksgiving indeed.
Photo credit: content.time.com