Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We intended to avoid Thanksgiving this year, although it is one of our favorite holidays, hoping to delay the traditional celebrations until next year when, perhaps, we will be stronger. And, although Joel and I will not cook turkey and all the fixins' nor watch football nor even be in this country on Thanksgiving, we cannot help but think of the meaning of this day. Lydia shared Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation of October 1963. It is worth reading and re-reading. And, mind you, this was written in the middle of the Civil War--not exactly a happy time for folks back then.
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the
blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are
so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they
come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they
cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to
the everwatchful providence of almighty God.In the midst of a civil war of
unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states
to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all
nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and
harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict;
while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and
navies of the Union.Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields
of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the
shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and
the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even
more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased,
notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the
battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented
strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large
increase of freedom.No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand
worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the most high God,
who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered
mercy.It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly,
reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the
whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part
of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning
in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as
a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the
heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly
due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with
humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his
tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in
the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently
implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation,
and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the
full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.In testimony whereof,
I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to

I had intended to steal Sue's idea and count the blessings I wish for others rather than my own this year. Yet, I find that I truly am thankful for so much that I want to at least start enumerating what I am most thankful for, even though I'll never write a complete list.
I am thankful for having Maura for 22, almost 23 years. I am thankful for Joel's kindheartedness, for Danielle's sensitivity, and for Lydia's fierce loyalty. I am thankful for a son-in-law who seems quite willing to accept the faults of his new family and love us regardless. I am thankful for Maura's many friends who have allowed us to be a part of their lives, and for the legions who were touched by Maura and form her living legacy. I am thankful for a job that fulfills me in so many ways, allowing me to use my strengths to help others. I'm really the one who is helped--the job forces me to take my eyes off myself and my own sorrow and focus on the needs of students, and in that there is healing. I am thankful for my brothers and my sister--those are priceless relationships, even when untended. I am thankful for the many friends who have let me know in so many ways that they care. I am thankful that God has given me hope amidst the sorrow. I am thankful for the atoning work of Jesus Christ. I am thankful that I can feel thankful, even if just some of the time.


Sue G said...

And I am thankful that you feel such gratitude and can express it so eloquently. Grief is so stultifying and can be such a burden. It can make you forget just how blessed you are. But not you. Your faith comes shining through, in spite of your grief...maybe a little because of it.

My prayer this year for your family is for Lydia. Her pain is so palpable and her expression of it is so compelling. I pray that God will show her peace for her heart, so that she can know that it is not disloyal to be happy, to go on and live the life she would have wished for Maura. I pray that she comes to know that would be Maura's wish for grow, to thrive, to embrace all that life and love have to offer. I believe in her heart she truly knows all this. When she is able to find joy again, in life and in the Lord, she will have found her strength and may be a bit surprised to see how much like Maura she is.

Wherever you are today, my heart is with you all.

Usted puede encontrar la paz en este nuevo ano y renovada esperanza (and please...don't tell me all the errors there must be in that sentence. Just high five me for trying!)

Michelle said...

I just wanted to stop by your blog and say hello.

Tony said...

I found your blog completely by chance. I lost my wife to cancer when she was 30 and I was 31. I know what you are feeling. I also know what her loss meant to my wife's parents. We had two children who were 3 and almost 2 when my wife died. Her parents have always been incredibly supportive of me and everything that I have done since. I have been so grateful to them. My mother in law made and decorated the cake when I remarried some 8 years later and they were present when my new wife adopted my two children and had their pictures taken with the the judge even though in law (but not in any other way) they were ceasing to be grandparents that day. Maura has gone, as my Christine has gone. Neither can ever come back, but that does not mean that we ever forget them and there is nothing wrong with asking the question what would she want me to do in any given situation. You will find ways to cope and you will carry on - you owe it to her to do so.

3rdcoastmade said...

I know this is kind of off subject, but I wanted to share a good memory of Maura that I was thinking about the other day. I went to Sam and it was my first semester in the fall of 05. I had my first jury and I was scared like no other because I could not get into a practice room to warm up before. While I was going up and down the halls of the practice rooms Maura poked her head out of the door and gave up her practice room. It was that one act of kindness that I will never forget. I ended getting an A- on my jury that semester and never forgot what she had done for me. I think about my blessings this holiday season and Maura is one of them. It was an honor knowing her, she was kind, beautiful, and most of all one of the nicest people I had ever met. I hope by sharing this memory with you it can bring a tiny amount of happiness to you. It is something I will keep in my heart and treasure always.