Tis the season. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and it just felt right to have this post dedicated to gratitude.
If this is your first time reading a Picking Poppies post, please check out the very first episode, to provide context. Essentially, this post is a continuation in a series that strives to place emphasis on living with intention, and always showing love and kindness. To continue the legacy of Ayden Nicole, our little girl in heaven.
Today marks the 18-month mark of losing Ayden. A year and a half. I still don’t even know how that is possible. As I am sitting on my couch, in my living room, there is a red dresser that sits in my direct line of sight. A little while ago, I decided it was time for that dresser to no longer sit on its own. I found Ayden’s heartbeat puppy, that plays an actual recording of her heartbeat when you squeeze it. I grabbed Ayden Bear, who weighs the exact same as Ayden did when she was born. A sign that says “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” And a picture. My favorite photo. Ayden’s daddy, holding Ayden. She is wearing her little gray hat. You can see her perfect, sweet little face.
I took all of these items and put them on the dresser. Now, whenever I am in my living room, I look up and I see my sweet little girl’s face.
I look to the left, at our red chair in the corner, and on it sits a pillow from a friend, that is covered in red poppies. The other day my nephew was playing with that pillow. He is only two weeks older than she would be.
As we approach the Holiday season, it has been difficult to approach it with a sense of gratitude.
I am tired.
Really, really tired.
But I believe it is during those times, during the middle of our most extreme exhaustion, in those moments, it is the most important to focus on gratitude.
I still remember being pregnant, post diagnosis, driving with Nathan, and saying, “we still have so much to be grateful for.” It didn’t make the impending loss of our daughter any less terrifying or heart breaking. But just because we were scared and broken, it did not mean we had an excuse to no longer be grateful.
There is so much power in gratitude. Particularly in those moments when you feel like you are starting to lose hope.
Sometimes I find myself focusing on the wrong things in the gratitude-stratosphere. Today, for instance, I found myself dwelling on how grateful I was that it is a short week, and I don’t have to work the last few days of the week.
There’s nothing wrong with being grateful for this. I am VERY grateful for this. However, if I dwell too much on that one aspect of this week, I miss out on so much.
When I sit down and really think about it, I’m grateful for so much more than just a short work week.
I am grateful for my job. I am grateful for the fact that I am employed in a place I love, doing what I love, regardless of how challenging it is. Today was one of those days I thought, “Oh, yeah…this is why people hate teaching.” And I am so grateful that I’m a teacher. I am so grateful that every day I walk into my own classroom, and I know without a shadow of a doubt, that I will not be bored that day. I will be challenged, most likely in ten billion ways, and I LOVE that. Even though it is one of the things that exhausts me to the core of my being, I am grateful for it. And it is important that I remind myself of that.
Not only that, I am grateful that I sometimes come home to a messy kitchen. A messy kitchen means that I come home to a home. A place that is my own, with someone I love. I am so grateful for that.
I am grateful for the fact that sometimes when I get ready for work in the morning, I “can’t find anything to wear.” Reality check – I’m grateful for the ridiculous amount of clothes I have, regardless of how long its been since I bought something new. I am grateful for the fact that I own clothes, and I have an entire closet full of them.
I am grateful for every piece of dog hair that I have to vacuum up, because that means I own a vacuum, and I have dogs. Who couldn’t find a reason to be grateful for these faces?
I am grateful for my student loans. Because I was able to go to college. I had the opportunity to choose, for myself, what I wanted to pursue. I had the opportunity to not let anything get in my way. So many do not even have this as an option. I am so blessed.
I am grateful for the fact that sometimes it is difficult to navigate the holidays, fitting in the right celebrations with every family member. Because that means I have family. It means I have somewhere to go for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and it means I have somewhere to belong. Do you have any idea how many people don’t have that?
I am grateful for books, the public library, and the absolute endless knowledge at our fingertips.
I am grateful for my electric bill, because it means my house is warm.
I am grateful for those moments when you don’t know if you can take another step. Because you always find out that, yes, you can indeed, take one more step.
I am so grateful for the fact that I have the freedom to write whatever I want, and I will suffer no consequences more severe than a disgruntled reader.
I am grateful for the most difficult relationships in my life, because they have taught me the most about grace, love, forgiveness, and humility.
I am grateful for the trying times in life, because those are the moments that showed me I am strong. Strength is a choice, and I chose to keep standing.
And, my dear friends, I am so grateful for the biggest heartbreak I have ever come to know. I am grateful for the heartbreak that causes my hearth to shatter over and over, ever single day. I am so grateful for that heartbreak, because without knowing how much I could love and how much loving that hard could destroy me, I would not know what I do about the power of love and kindness. Without my little girl, without Ayden Nicole, I would not be the person I am today. I would not know how to love as deeply, now to push through agony and torment, how to stand up when you don’t think you can even breathe. I would not know how to fight, how to seek after joy when you don’t believe it is possible.
I would not know anything of the things in this life that truly matter.
So, therefore, on this day, the day before Thanksgiving, despite the fact that I would give anything to have my little girl in my arms right now, I choose to be grateful.
Because no matter the depths of our brokenness, gratitude is still possible. And I will be grateful. No matter what.
Please consider taking part in the Picking Poppies movement (choosing love and kindness), by doing any or all of the following:
- Change your Facebook profile picture to a picture of a poppy for 1 day – to help spread the Picking Poppies message
- Go out of your way to show love and kindness
- Live with intention
- Comment below, letting everyone know something you are grateful for