Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Each Thanksgiving, I stand there again in the hallway right outside Henry's room. Ready to go to Thanksgiving dinner, eager to see my family, filled with guilt about leaving Henry. He doesn't know it is a holiday, that he should be seeing his cousins and grandparents and wearing a pilgrim hat. I'm standing there talking to Magie's mom, admiring her coat, talking about how we won't count this Thanksgiving, how next year will be the "first" Thanksgiving for both our babies. We were so sure they would both be home to celebrate the next year.

Neither of them made it to Christmas.

I'm thankful for many things. I don't spend all day stuck on this memory. I don't only lament what I don't have. I do give thanks. Henry taught me that. I was perhaps my most grateful when he was in the hospital, when we didn't know what was wrong with him, when every day seemed bleak and improvements seemed miniscule and setbacks huge. Each night I prayed for him, and I always began with thanks—thanks for another day, for better sats, being one step closer to extubation, a card in the mail, an email, open eyes, a smile.

It is easier when the daily challenges are more mundane to forget about the little reasons for thanks. Perhaps because nothing is all that bad, nothing is all that great. I like to think I am more aware of the small joys and blessings around me. Maybe. Most days.

Kathleen woke up too early this morning. She was cranky all day, throwing tantrums off and on. And yet, I was thankful.

I was thankful to sit with her,
to hold her,
to read to her,
to kiss her head,
to have her shout, "Bye! Ta ta! Cheerio!" as I tucked her in for the night.

I'm thankful for a warm home,
a comfortable bed,
and a full belly.

I'm thankful to have work that I (mostly) like,
and for three days off,
and for a break from that work starting a week and half from now.

I'm thankful for the blue skies today,
the November chill,
and the smell of smoke in the air.

I'm thankful for a close-knit neighborhood,
friends near and far,
and the amazing people I've met because of Henry.

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving traditions, 
for two families that I will happy to see tomorrow, 
for family that acknowledges the missing among us. 

I'm thankful for my baby boy whose smile still warms me,
for my baby girl who amazes me with something new every day,
and for the baby I have yet to meet.

I'm thankful I'm not standing outside that hospital room this year,
thankful for having survived year one and year two,
thankful to feel the sharp edges of grief softening, slowly, yes, but softening still.

Thank you for reading here,
for bearing witness,
for supporting me on this journey.


  1. It has been my pleasure. This post makes me wish we had thanksgiving here.

  2. I could not have said it better. Gage's first and only Thanksgiving was also spent in the hospital. In the PICU, not having any idea what on earth was wrong with him. There was still hope that it was just something easily fixed. We had no clue it was a fatal disease. I was just writing on my blog how it is so different the second time you do something without your child. Last year was full of memories of the year before when he was here. This year seems so odd because it is that much further from when I had him. Here's hoping we can find some peace today.

  3. Thank you for writing here, for sharing your memories and thoughts with us. Thinking of you, and Kathleen, and Henry.