Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s family. It’s great food. It’s love and it’s togetherness.
But this year it was a little different. We rented our complex’s clubhouse so we would have more room since the kiddos keep multiplying. They could run around and play more easily. My mom’s place wouldn’t be a million degrees from cooking. We wouldn’t be trying to fit 9 dishes, 7 adults, 5 kids and a dog into one dining room!
So we get to the clubhouse, minus my sister and her husband who were at the hospital awaiting the birth of my 5th niece. We looked around. All we saw was extra space. Food was ready but it definitely felt like we were missing something. And we were! I can’t even describe it. We were like ok… let’s eat?? We got the clubhouse for this? Maybe we should call some friends?
Once we sat down I pretended to yell to Erica like there was an echo because she was so far away, “Erica….rica…ica…ca.” We had to laugh.
We said grace, prayed for a healthy delivery for Carly and future baby, and dug in. It was a great meal like always, but we were definitely smothered with anxiety. We were so anxious and I kept checking my phone to hear about Carly’s progress. The kids played while we cleaned up sooner than normal. We didn’t even officially have dessert. If you know me, you know this is sad lol. I spend the night sending Carly pictures of Jacob who was at Thanksgiving without his parents. I comforted her and reassured her he and us were all good.
At about 6:30, we got the text, “BABY IS COMING.” You would have thought a tornado was coming. We cleared out as fast as possible because to my mom and sisters, it’s important that we be there for every birth, even if we are sitting in a waiting room.
Dave took Jacob home to bed and all the girls got in the Beamer while we hurried to the hospital blasting the Goo Goo Dolls. It was pure excitement. About 5 minutes away, we got the next text. “She’s here.”
We stepped on it and got there ASAP. As we ran through the parking garage and the bridge walkway to the hospital, memories flashed through my head. Sadness surfaced.
See, back in June, we didn’t know if this day was going to come. Back in June, I spent ten nights going to sleep choking back tears and fears. Back in June, my pregnant sister fought an infection with a compromised immune system and a 12 week baby inside of her. She wasn’t responding to some meds. She wasn’t able to take just anything due to her colitis and her baby. The doctors couldn’t even diagnose the exact problem. But it was an infection in her feet and lower legs. An infection that needed abscesses to be drained. Swollen legs. Bruised legs.
I visited that girl everyday. I will never forget the day I walked in while the doctors were working on her wounds. Heat washed over me. My vision blurred. My focus turned to dizziness. I walked in the hallway with my dad, avoiding his gaze as well as my sister’s. Tears came like someone took a kettlebell to my stomach. My little sister. Pregnant. Sick. In writhing pain. I couldn’t watch but I couldn’t see her like that. I will never forget it.
Then the nurse came out and said Carly was asking for me. I wiped my eyes, not wanting her to see I was upset or scared, and went to sit by her side. I had to have her hold my hand while the doctors dressed her wounds. I always thought pneumonia and mono sore throats were the worst pain I ever felt. Til that day. The pain I felt for her was beyond that. One of those things where you just want to make it better…
I visited her everyday. We had word search races like we did on road trips to Florida growing up. We watched dumb tv. And we laughed. Her strength made me grateful for the family we have. How do we do any of this life without “our people?”
We all helped with Jacob who she couldn’t see in person for 11 days!!!! She missed our annual Taste of Country concert. Her husband was thankful for all the routines she established at home as he was able to smoothly be a single dad while his wife fought through such a major infection.
And all this time, baby Bridget was growing inside of her, strong like her momma.
So no, Thanksgiving was NOT like every other Thanksgiving for us this year. And we can all say grace or post that we are thankful. But I have never embodied gratefulness the way I did this holiday. We even got to see my dad at the hospital too, who we normally don’t get to see on Thanksgiving Day.
So again I learn, life is a giant playing field for which even the best game plan can fail. Surrendering to this can bring the greatest love of all. No matter how hard we try to control things, no matter how hard we fight or how scared we get, life is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Cherish it. Be grateful for it. And love those who you are lucky enough to have by your side.
Bridget was named for her strength and loved her presence.
A precious Thanksgiving miracle.
Through tragedy we grow. Through fear we gain faith. And through life, we love.
So while this Thanksgiving was nothing like it used to be, it was everything it should be.