A few weeks ago I wrote about gratefulness and happiness. Being grateful in the midst of grief is not an easy task but one that we are reminded of in this Christmas season. The secret, according to St. Therese of Lisieux, is found in her “Little Way.” She learned to find reasons to thank God in the little things we overlook. Most of us are not that grateful for the big things (food, shelter, and the lives of those we love) let alone the “little things” (a beautiful morning, the first sip of coffee, or a quiet walk) as we take them for granted. But an openness to gratitude is an essential element of our faith.
“Gratitude is the thing that brings us the most grace…I have learnt from this experience; try it, and you will see. I am content with whatever God gives me, and I show him this in a thousand little ways.”St. Therese of Lisieux
I don’t need to lecture all of you on the meaning of Christmas. We celebrate God’s gift of His Son to us, as we celebrate all the gifts God has given us. And yes, those gifts are best seen in our children. Oliver is a gift who reminds us of how precious this gift of life is, but more importantly, by reminding us that the true gift is God’s love and saving grace. While I grieve his loss I am grateful for his presence both during his life and since, as I’ve never really lost his presence. Oliver is a gift from God for which I am thankful. He is one of the ”big things” I’m thankful for. But I’m also thankful for the little things about Oliver, like a reminder of something he might say (“Guess what”) or seeing a little boy with Legos. Those can be causes for grief, but I try to take reminders of Oliver as gifts for which to be grateful.
Oliver, like most children, loved Christmas and I like the reminders. It is selfish of me since the same event makes my wife incredibly sad. So I try not to go overboard and she tries to put up with more Christmas than she would like to — a couple in grief needs to compromise when they grieve differently.
I will miss Oliver especially on Christmas day since the joy of a child will be missing. He would be 13 now and still excited for the day, but we’ll not have any of that this year. But I’m grateful that I miss him because it means I had him.