Thankfulness that what-might-have-been wasn’t is a different kind of gratitude.
Most of us express it from time to time. Something bad happens and we say, “Oh thank goodness! It could have been so much worse!” Nothing good has occurred, but we’re thankful anyway.
Relief in the face of difficulty is still relief. Ask any Alzheimer’s caregiver.
But first give us time to regain our balance. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is like a punch in the stomach. It knocks the breath out of patient and caregiver alike. The shadowy present turns dark and the future fades to black.
Yet, life goes on. We adjust our vision to what is. We alter our expectations for the future. We adapt to a new normal, because we must.
Our loved ones need us in ways neither we nor they ever imagined, but we’re able to help them.
Conversation becomes more one-sided, but we learn how to reassure and comfort both our loved ones and ourselves with our words.
We sometimes feel overwhelmed with the weight of caregiving, but we learn to ask for help and to accept the help we’re offered.
Smiles from our loved ones are fewer, but those smiles—the ones on their lips and the ones we see in their eyes—bring us more joy.
We mourn that we can’t restore our loved ones to the lives they once lived, but when they can no longer anticipate the new life they are moving toward, we anticipate for them for them, we prepare, and we grow. We, in ourselves…we grow.
For the help we can give loved ones and the care we can take;
For the words still between us, spoken and unspoken;
For the smiles we can give and the ones we can see and the ones we only feel but believe in nonetheless;
For the growth we experience through helping our loved ones;
For softer hearts and stronger hands, deeper faith and truer hope and love received through giving love;
Lord, make us truly thankful.
“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” (Rev. 11:17 NIV)
Father, there may be different kinds of gratitude, but You are the one Source of all blessings. Give us the faith and wisdom to recognize Your good gifts in all their forms and disguises, and remind us always to thank You.