It’s been said, “It’s not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy.” And so, as we celebrate the month of Thanksgiving, I’m going to focus on the things I’m grateful for.
October was a rough month, if I’m being honest. The 30th was the one year anniversary of Corey’s transplant – and we were supposed to be celebrating. Remembering all we walked through during that season one year ago has brought up a lot of rough memories and I’ve walked through the past few weeks with a whole lot of tightness in my chest. It’s been hard to turn it off at times and I’m tired of going round and round with it.
I’m very sensitive to negativity (a story for another day) and it’s not a road I let myself wander very far down. So what better way to combat negative thoughts and creeping anxiety than to turn my mind toward all there is to be grateful for? So in that spirit, and in no particular order, I’m setting out to list the people and things I’m grateful for. My plan is to add to this list all throughout the month and now that I’ve said it out loud you can hold me to it. Who knows, maybe you’ll even end up on it…
MY KIDS | Because let’s be honest, this whole single mom thing is no joke. The level of exhaustion, both physical and emotional, is insane, and they’ve been pretty forgiving of my shortcomings. This isn’t a road I planned on taking.
MY FAMILY | They have been a source of encouragement, honesty, help and support. They listen when I want to talk and give me space when I don’t.
MY COLLECTIVE FAMILY-IN-LAW | They’re all walking through such heartbreak and loss too, yet they take the time to call or text and check in, or just let me know they’re thinking of and praying for us.
THAT EXTRA HOUR C.O.F.F.E.E. | I was going to say that I was thankful for that extra hour of sleep today, but Lord have mercy, no one told the new puppy in our house that today was a sleep-in day! Ugh. Instead I’m thankful for strong coffee…
Heaven help me, she is cute though! Meet Penny Lane, the newest member of the Grant family – and one whose cuteness is hard to resist – even at 5 AM!
MY JOB + CO-WORKERS | I work with the best people and cannot imagine walking this road over the past year and a half without their unwavering support. I have been the recipient of gobs of kindness and I feel so blessed. I ended up taking more time off after Corey died than I’d planned and when I returned to my office for the first time in the better part of 3 months, this awaited me. These notes are all still on my wall and continue to provide strength, encouragement and they just make me smile.
“THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR” | It’s too soon to talk about the loss of the 2018 World Series 😭 but hey, Kershaw is staying – so “there’s always next year.” I was in high school the last time my #BoysInBlue took home the title – and I’m ready for #ThisTeam to have another victory parade! I might even have to fly to LA to help them celebrate when (not if) they get ‘er done! #ThirdTime’sACharm #LADetermined #LAFaithful
Pardon the interruption, but… life. So, where was I? Oh yes, lamenting a World Series loss but thankful that Kersh is staying with my #BoysInBlue. And now I’ll move on to another team I’m thankful for.
THE REGION OF BOOM – Edward Jones Region # 174 | The weekend after Corey’s funeral, the kids and I headed over to Coeur d’Alene for the graveside service, which was followed by a memorial service at the church Corey grew up in and that much of his family still attends. While we were gone, a team from our Edward Jones family came over and did a ton of yard cleanup. You see, as part of Corey’s treatment protocol he couldn’t do any yard work for one year following his bone marrow transplant. He couldn’t mow the lawn or even be outside or have the windows opened while it was being mowed. He couldn’t touch soil or work in the garden at all and we couldn’t even have any fresh flowers in the house (and if you know me, that was a major bummer as I love fresh flowers in my house. All. The. Time.). There were some planter boxes in the backyard that needed knocking out and some things that needed to be hauled off and just some general yard cleanup needs. Some of the guys asked me about what they could do around the house after the funeral and, even though I wasn’t going to be there, they wanted to come over and work. I get the need to do something sometimes so, hard as it was for me, I left them a list and when I got home, every single thing I needed knocked out, pulled out moved or removed was gone. I don’t even know who all was there, all I know is that these people have treated us as family from day one and I am blessed to have been a part of this region. So thank you, Region of Boom angels. You helped me kick off a summer of yard transformation and I am grateful for your continued love and support.
The big cleanup our EJ family helped out with in the spring set me up for a summer of working in the yard and communing with nature and our Creator in a new way that brought me more peace than I can say. I wrote about it before but my time spent working in the yard over the summer included a lot of quiet conversations with the Lord – and with Corey – that were very therapeutic.
THE YARD BOSS, THE TREE BOSS & THE PAVER BOSS | My small group family is amazing and they kicked some serious tail this summer helping me out around the yard. Dan was dubbed Yard Boss as he rototilled the whole garden area after the Edward Jones guys removed the old planter boxes (9 of them!). He also doled out jobs to the troupe of pre-teens who spent a couple days unplugged doing manual labor and liking it – or not… Then there’s Brad, the Tree Boss. He walked into my yard, took one look at the sad tree that had busted through its pot and dug its roots into the ground at a rather unfortunate angle and said, “Oh no! That thing is my job today!” and then spent more than two hours trying to carefully dig up/out the roots, followed by several more hours of trying to prune and right the poor thing. I’m happy to say that, after the shock, it thrived and is definitely going to make it. And, Lord have mercy, what would I have done without Jen and Amber, who helped me lay a few hundred feet of pavers, creating a nice, level, dry patio and walkway on the side of my house. These girls rocked it and I smile every time I’ve walked on that dry patio this fall and winter. And I can’t forget about Kyle who helped haul a few yards of sand for the project and hauled some more stuff off to the dump for me. Seriously, you guys, I am surrounded by the most amazing people.
MY PARENTS & THEIR MAD SKILLS | If you know them, this declaration does not take you by surprise. In fact, you probably chuckled at it. I won’t post pics of this one because I’m a little embarrassed of the “before” photos but my parents spent a week here this summer and when they left, the interior of my house had been painted, my garage had been thoroughly cleaned and organized (two full trailer trips to the dump and one full trailer trip to St. Vincents for donations) and my car was parked in the garage for the first time in a dozen years. Sometimes I leave my garage open for a whole Saturday, just to show off how organized and purty it is! Ha ha!
MY NEIGHBORHOOD IS BETTER THAN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD | #SorryNotSorry, but it’s true. I was standing in the kitchen having coffee one day early on in Corey’s chemo treatment phase and looked out at the backyard said, “The lawn has been mowed. Huh, that’s odd.” The next week, the same thing. Remember, Corey couldn’t do any of this during his treatment and I knew I certainly hadn’t gotten to it. This went on for some time and I came to realize that Monte and Mark had been mowing our lawn. They didn’t ask, they just did it. And kept doing it – for more than a year you guys. And who knows how many times they took the cans out on Tuesday night for Wednesday morning garbage pickup. Tod too. I know he took the cans out on more than one occasion. Once when I had put a bunch of scrap wood in the recycle bin, sticking out like matchsticks shoved in quickly and haphazardly, I came out to find that Brian had taken it all out, cut it down and placed it back in – with the lid closed. And in the days after Corey died, before the funeral, I came home one day to a freshly “done” Spring porch. Again, I certainly hadn’t had the time to do it, but Chelsie and Shirlene know I like a colorfully done porch and knew I’d be having family and friends in town for the funeral, so they just came over and did it. Because they knew I’d like it. This summer Mark even taught Jayden how to mow the lawn with our new lawnmower so Jayden could take the duty over himself, because he felt it was his responsibility now. There were the amazing fresh flowers Brian and Lanae brought me on Mother’s Day – my first as a single mom – and I still get notes and cards on my doorstep from different people in my hood. So yeah, my neighborhood is better than your neighborhood.
MY SISSY & THE PUPPY WHISPERER | Capping off a summer season of yard and house kind of stuff, my sister and brother-in-law came up for a week in September to be with us when we got our new puppy, Penny Lane. The kids didn’t know they were coming, so the whole thing was an a-mazingly fun surprise-filled weekend. Justin and Deanne have been married for almost 25 years and have had dogs for, well, almost 25 years. There may have been patches of time between dogs, but they’re dog people and have almost always had one (or two) so they were as excited as I was about the pup surprise. AND, my brother-in-law is one of those guys who can do anything around the house, so he came up for some puppy-proofing in the yard and to do some little repairs around the house. I cannot even tell you how fun it was when the kids got home and saw them. There were serious bear hugs and peals of teary laughter. And boy, did Justin have a way with Penny Lane! I seriously didn’t know how I was going to get her to go potty (outside, as opposed to on my floors…) when he left. It was magical and he will now and forevermore be known as the Puppy Whisperer. Serious, serious love for them both. (#MoveHere!!!!!)
I’ll end this update for now with a promise to be back with more thankfulnesses soon. I know November and Thanksgiving have passed but isn’t the whole holiday season about gratitude and love and reflection? I rather think it is, so I’m gonna ride this Thankfulness Project out for the remainder of 2018.
OLD FRIENDS – AND – NEW FRIENDS | I am a big believer in girlfriends. I totally ascribe to the “No (wo)man is an island” and “It takes a village” schools of thought. I’ve known two of my closest girlfriends since I was 4 years old. Another one since I was 6, and the “newest” of my old girlfriends came along in 4th grade. These are all girls who are still very much part of my everyday life. They knew Corey. They know my kids. They knew my brother. They get me and it’s easy being around them. The older I get and the more people I meet, the more I realize how rare this is, and what a treasure it is. I have a group of girlfriends I’ve gone to the beach in Aptos, CA with (almost) every spring for the past 20 years. They’re my “no filter and stretchy pants” girlfriends and I can say a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g to them and know they won’t hold it against me – and that next year they’ll likely roast me for it and we’ll fall over laughing about it for the next 20 years. Some of them flew up for Corey’s funeral and flew home less than 24 hours later. Some of them waited until the dust settled and flew up during the summer. We have inside jokes, annual traditions (“It’s almost Christmas, Charlie…”) and Buffalo Stance dance-offs in the memory bank to pull from on introspective mornings like this one.
And then there are my new girlfriends. I met Deb and Kateigh my very first Sunday at BCA and the deal was sealed right then. They know everyone in a 20 mile radius and couldn’t wait to bring me along, get me plugged in, include me and make me feel at home. Not being a part of this group of women was just not an option. They pulled me in like I’d been there for years. I met the most extraordinary women when I was a part of the working moms group at our church and they have become my people. My neighbor Chelsie who’s saved my bacon more than once with a “Can my kids come over early while I run off to an early meeting” or “Can you grab the kids off the bus while I run into a late meeting?” and whose whole family loves my kids like their own. My small group at church is a-mazing and have been there for us in countless ways, not just since Corey died, but in the couple years before when we started meeting and building this “framily” unit I now cherish so much. Then there’s the entire small group at church that’s essentially adopted our family and whose generosity, kindness and all-out Christlike love continues to blow my mind and whose Christmas gift to our family will be part of a future blog post – once I can wrap my head around the awesomeness of it.
As I reflect on all I am thankful for this holiday season, my girls, my people, are pretty high on the list. But now I have to run because one of them just texted me that she picked donuts up for my kids and I have to run down to the hotel lobby and pick them up.
More on that and more thankfulness project reflections coming soon……
I’M THANKFUL FOR PROMISE | It’s been 8 months since Corey passed away. 3/4 of a year; hardly seems possible. And yet, here we are, wading through another round of “firsts” as we celebrate Christmas and put a wrap on a year that ended so much differently than it began. I knew there’d be no way for Christmas not to be hard this year. No matter which side of the family we were with, there were bound to be comparisons about the last time we were here… with Dad. So, I decided to do something completely different and take the kids on a trip – just the 3 of us – and to no place we’d ever been as a family. Jayden and Abbie will always remember their first Christmas without their dad and I wanted them to be able to look back on this season and have some happy memories to pull from as they remember the grief they felt. So we headed south, to one of my very favorite cities, and, of course, to the sunshine.
This past week on Coronado Island in San Diego was exactly what the doctor ordered. We laughed, we cried, we explored, we played on the beach and cheered on a gaggle of surfing Santas. We had a fancy Christmas morning brunch and ate ice cream before dinner some nights. We ice skated on the beach and cheered the sunset (yes, people actually broke out into applause as the sun melted into the mighty Pacific). We walked and walked and walked; some days I had 10,000 steps in before 9 AM. Michele, one of my oldest and dearest friends, spent Christmas on Coronado with her family too. We’ve known each other since we were 4 years old, were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and are really more like sisters than friends. We stole away for a couple sunrise walks on the beach, long before the kids woke up, and had the kinds of talks that are healing to the soul (and we may have picked a couple beach-front bungalows we’d love to retire to…). So while it was a new and unconventional Christmas for us, it was perfect. It was perfect in its newness, it was perfect in its grief, it was perfect in its time of reflection and of dreaming. And, honestly, taking a trip at Christmastime is not something I’ve ruled out as a new tradition for our family…
2018 is ending far differently than it began. Or is it? This year began with our hearts full of hope and promise as Corey had just come through his bone marrow transplant and we thought we were heading into a year of healing and rebuilding. And I suppose it’s ending much the same way, isn’t it? Our hearts are full of grief at what we’ve lost, but there’s still hope and promise and healing and rebuilding there too. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” I tell my kids all the time that before our Creator set the earth on its axis, He knew the number of Corey’s days. He knew we would have this force in our lives for the time we had him, and He knew we would be left here to carry on after he was gone. Corey did receive his healing in 2018, just in a different way than we’d imagined. And those of us who remain to carry on his memory are full of hope and healing, of rebuilding and promise.
So here’s to 2019. May it be a year of growth, a year of greater love and peace and joy, a year of healing and rebuilding – even if it looks different than we thought. May we all continue into 2019… unshaken.