“Celebrate the little things in life, appreciate tomorrow…never condemn yourself to a life without cause to celebrate and be thankful for what you have. Never forget the people you love and love them when you have an occasion to do so. Celebrate their life and celebrate yours.” (~Anonymous)
Look up “celebration” on google and you’ll get all kinds of results: in celebration of artichokes, celebrating fathers, a celebration of friendship, touchdown celebrations, duct tape celebrations.
I love the idea that we can celebrate anything… that any day is a day to mark special things.
But celebrating goes deeper than artichokes and touchdowns (although I am a big fan of food and football).
It’s remembering, memorializing, giving thanks, observing, rejoicing and glorifying God.
Years ago Bri shared an article with me (one I wish I had kept) on celebrating and how we as Christians have so much to celebrate. How even when things are hard, we can have hope and joy and can share in that hope and joy. It was all about how God is glorified in all of our days. The author of the article encouraged his readers to take time to celebrate: to mark anniversaries and happy days and holy days and common ordinary days. Since then I’ve been adding more and more days to our family calendar: first day of Spring celebrations, birthdays and anniversaries, annual remembrances, events, and then just “let’s eat on china because it’s a beautiful day” kind of celebrations.
The month of October has been full. Full of emotions that whirl and twirl and find me riding a roller coaster of days. It has been full of remembrance and grief. It has been full of new steps. It has been full of celebrating.
We started this month of celebrating with the first Sunday, a beautiful, wonderful Sunday where we rejoiced in the covenant of life God has given to our Bear and our Bella who were baptized together at church. They sat with me and shared their hearts, their love for God, and how they trust their faithful God to walk with them no matter what, then Brian read it aloud to our church family and I stood behind him shaking with the effort not to weep. After the service, my sweet friend, Sarah, hugged me tight and said the words she knew I was thinking, “I’m thankful you were given this day.” Yes. What a gift. We gathered with my parents and my brother and nephews (two of which surprised us by coming home from college for the service) with some Italian food in our bellies and lots of laughter in our hearts. Then we hung out together and celebrated belated family birthdays together and gave my parents a gorgeous canvas print of their grandchildren… we are all holding on to memories together.
The following weekend, dear Ash finally celebrated his thirteenth birthday (from January), with an amazing weekend away with his dad to watch his beloved Green Bay Packers play football at Lambeau Field. They drove out together talking and listening to podcasts and Ash reading and working on homework, stopping at friends’ and family’s homes along the way. It was a beautiful warm day and the Packs won to make it even better. Ash was in hog heaven. When they returned home the Monday after, he breezed through the back door with a huge hug and a, “Hey, Mom!” It blew me away. It seemed he had aged 10 years in one weekend. He was so much more confident and sure of himself. Time with Dad will do that for you it seems. Oh, how I love that dear boy.
Last week was a week away for my Brian… a much needed respite from care this past year (has it really been a year, y’all?!). They say it is often harder on the caregiver than the one walking through suffering, and y’all I believe it. Bri flew out to spend a week with his dad off-roading in Moab, Utah. Visits to Monument Valley and Arches National Park were part of the excitement. I lived vicariously (and prayed a little harder) through his instagram and Facebook posts and pictures, and he had yet another adventure of a lifetime. Yes, time with Dad will do that for you it seems.
My parents stayed here with the children and me, and as is always the case when we are together, it was a sweet time of family and love. Dear Bear wound up sick, and I had chemo, so having Grandma to snuggle him was a huge help. He sat at the foot of my bed one day and told me how he knew he couldn’t be near me because he was sick, but he “just needed his mom.” Heartbreak, y’all. My dad was my chemo buddy yet again and filled his days tinkering and doing odd jobs around the home, taking some of the burden off of Bri. My mom cooked and cleaned and loved and laughed. These two are such gifts… such amazing gifts.
Yesterday, October 27, was one year since a very kind and dear man in our church died suddenly and left a hole in so many lives. He was a pathologist at the hospital, and every time I’d have a biopsy, he’d find me in church and tell me how he had double-checked everyone’s work to be sure they got it right, that he was looking out for me, and showing his love for our family in this way. Our little hospital just seems so empty without his wonderful presence… as does our church.
Yesterday also marked one year since we learned that my cancer had returned–we still didn’t know at this point just what type of recurrence it was, and we were reeling and terrified and wondering again how to do life. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year. And as time marches on and I live with the reality of incurable cancer, each year is a beautiful gift, yet time’s passing is a narrowing of sorts as we wrestle with just what my diagnosis means.
October has had good days and bad days. Curl up on the couch days and get a lot done days. We’ve been going to football games for Bear and a cross country meet for Ash and school presentations and work and church. We’ve briefly tailgated at JMU and worn our purple and gold proudly this season. We’ve watched sunsets and rain showers and marveled at the beauty of the valley where we live.
We tell our children constantly, just because life is hard, just because there are days where it feels life has stopped for us, doesn’t mean we’re going to stop living.
And that’s what we’ve been doing…living.
We’ve been celebrating this October. We are remembering, grieving, memorializing, giving thanks, observing, and in all of it…
God is being glorified.