Today was a good day. Ben is back at almost 100% (his inner "Ben-dozer" is coming alive once again!), Andrew had a great day, despite taking a hockey stick to the mouth (I'd welcome one day this week without the school nurse calling), and I got several of my small things accomplished. I just keep coming back to the word "thankful".....
I'm thankful for the two boys God gave to Mark and me to raise. We waited a long time before having them, and they were well worth the wait. Although I'm sad that Mark's no longer here alongside us physically, he is with us in spirit. And these boys were so loved by him....many people live entire lives without the kind of love that these kids got in 9 and 8 years. Their daddy made quite the impression on them, along with everyone else he came in contact with. Although it wasn't long enough for us, it was long enough to make a lasting, loving impact on both boys. They are flourishing, despite the enormous change that's come into their lives, and it's my mission to see that continues. I am so very proud of them both.
I'm thankful Mark was such a good manager of time and money. He was astute in all areas of business and planning, savvy, level-headed, and frugal when he needed to be (he thought I should try to be more often). He made sure that we, his family, would be provided for, no matter what. That is such a blessing. He took the head of household title very seriously, and if anything, I'm struggling to take on many of those responsibilities because he did them so well, making them seem easy and effortless....and they are not.
I'm thankful for such a large loving support system of family and friends, stretching from Oregon and Washington, going through Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, and Massachusetts. I'm sure I've left out a couple of states, but you get my drift. There are folks praying for our little family on a consistent, regular basis, and we can feel it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I'm thankful that I have a Father that understands what I'm going through. I have a Savior who walked this earth in human form, who has experienced every emotion that I can possibly feel, so he can identify with me...he can comfort me...he can show me that there are better days ahead. And that Holy Spirit that he left with us? There are times that I truly feel like I'm being carried by that spirit, because I can't walk this path on my own. The power that can be tapped into is amazing, I don't think I've even scratched the surface on what God can do in our lives if I just let Him.
I'm thankful that I have family travelling our direction this weekend. My mom will be returning to help out, along with my uncle (her brother) and aunt (his wife) from Illinois. They will stay a few days and return home, leaving Mom here. She'll stay on for at least a couple of weeks. It will be wonderful to have an extra set of hands around here. I'm sure we'll cry together, laugh, and remember how great her son-in-law was. She told me that she never worried about me after I met Mark; she knew that no matter what, he would protect and take care of her grandsons and me. That's the best compliment a mother-in-law can give.
I'm thankful I got my dog back today. Yes, the bird dog that Mark loved and hunted for only one short year. She'd been in doggie detention while the shed was being built and today she was released on good behavior. I've struggled with whether to keep her or not, because she was bred to hunt. It's what she lives for, it's how she's wired. She's high-strung, head-strong, and full of energy. But as I paid her tab and waited for the tech to bring her to me, I actually got excited. I was so happy to hear the clickety-click of her newly-pedicured feet as she came down the hallway. Whenever she saw me, the look on her face made my day. And in that moment, I knew that I would not be getting rid of Miss Maggie Mae of Dallas. She's mine now. Whether Andrew and I hunt her next year, or breed her, none of that matters. She is a member of this crazy little family, and we will figure out the rest as we go.
Finally, I'm thankful I had the opportunity to know and love such a great guy for 25 years. He had great convictions, he followed his heart, and he truly made a difference in this great big earth. I hope I can continue to make him proud by doing the same.