It started on November First when almost every other person on social media began a countdown to Thanksgiving with lists of what they were “thankful” for. And that’s all good. I, too, post a daily Happy Day Moment on my Facebook page, and my website tagline is “living with gratitude.”

So I’m all about thankfulness and gratefulness and saluting the goodness of each day.

And yet, these days I find myself thinking about this Thanksgiving that will pull and stretch and weigh on the emotions of so many I know. Especially, I’m thinking about those friends who see that empty chair.

The father not at the table. The husband not carving the turkey. The empty chair.

I think of Terri and Audrey. I think of Molly and Linda. I think of them facing this Thanksgiving, how very sad they must be and how much they would want to give the world’s biggest hug. Just one more time. To their husband. To their father.

For some, the loss was sudden, that shocking unexpected death.  For some, it was a knowing, a waiting, a grasping for more time.

For these friends, their gratitude on this Thanksgiving will have to look backward. To what was and not what is or will be. It will have to be the hard choice to still give thanks, even as they see that empty chair.

To still give thanks.

This is what I find myself thinking …

When we see that empty chair.

wrinkled handWhen there is such raw emotion that the washcloth, the sunlight through the window, the wrinkled hand brings us to tears and we choke and can’t breathe …

Then we can still give thanks.

When there is such loneliness that it cuts to the quick, right under our ribs, with razor sharpness, and we stare into the vacant space where we long for them to be …

Then we can still give thanks.

When there are so many days littered with problems and obstacles and hard things that we stumble and fall and bleed and long to be held …

Then we can still give thanks.

Because this giving of thanks is a choice.

We can choose to be thankful and grateful, understanding the fragility of life that make every moment so meaningful. We often waste too many moments immersing ourselves in needless distractions that steal our attention away from the things that actually matter. We should grasp the precious moments of this life and stop being distracted with the things that don’t really matter.

Thinking of Terri and Audrey and Molly and Linda, I have a new clarity of what matters most. That what we’ll never regret is time spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent. That days of love and caring and giving are the best days. That family days are the very best days. That we remember to express words of love every day because we never know when it might be our last opportunity.

Life is short, indeed. And it gets shorter. We can’t always wait for the perfect moment.  So let’s live generously, with no room for regrets, or wondering what could have been.

Today’s moments quickly become tomorrow’s memories. Let’s appreciate today for what it is and make our time count.  Let’s give the hug, make the apology, unpack the suitcase. Let’s make the days memorable.  Let’s live life so that we never have to regret the chances we never took, the love we never let in, and the gifts we never gave out.

We can still give thanks.

Even if we see that empty chair on this Thanksgiving. Or we know those who will be pushing through a loss or loneliness, let us love more. Appreciate more. Return more.

I’m thinking: Let us focus on doing the things that will matter forever. Understanding the value of time. Esteeming relationships. Making room for forgiveness and grace. Living with gratitude.

And just loving. Because in the end, there is nothing else.

About Me

About Me

Hi! I’m Jama, the writer of daily Happy Day Moments, author of Then Came A Miracle, and retired Director of Midwest Writers Workshop. I’m an unapologetic Happyologist with a desire to share the importance of “living with gratitude” … finding a “moment” each day to be grateful. I’m a lover of family and girlfriends and Jesus and words and chocolate and encouraging others (especially writers!). Luke 1:37.

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