A can of Coke wrapped in a red ribbon. How could I possibly have known this gag gift would be the spark that would inspire my last post of 2018. More about an iconic, carbonated, syrupy sweet beverage later.
Today is December 28th. IT is over. The holiday season is mostly behind us save for the tooting horns, fireworks, dropping of the ball, midnight smooches, and the familiar sounds of Auld Lang Syne that signify the flip of the calendar from one year to the next. March 6, 2018 will go on record as the most devastating day in my life-past, present AND future. There has never been and can never be a more horrible event that can occur that will knock this date from its perch on top. And yet, with a heart and mind so heavy with grief and sadness, I feel it is important to take some time to reflect on ALL that occurred this year and expose the positive that rose out of the mucky muck. And so, I offer this thank you note of sorts, an expression of gratitude for the good that was found in a year full of sorrow.
I am grateful for the 101 sympathy cards that we received, and for the cards, emails, text and Facebook messages that are sent to me on random days “just because.”
I am grateful for the $6,000.65 that was so generously donated to the JDRF-Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
I am grateful for the thoughts and prayers that have been sent our way. It is impossible to obtain a count on the intangible, but I am certain that we have not walked this journey alone. We have been carried by many, and I want you to know that we appreciate you.
I am grateful for the women I know who are also unwilling members of The-Club-No- Mother-Wants-To-Join. I am not grateful for the tragedy that forever links us, but for the unconditional love and support they provide, and for the plain and simple fact that they “get” what child loss looks and feels like.
I am grateful for my sister’s current and former co-workers who donated money for a tree planting near the gravesite of my son. A plaque bearing his name and dates also includes a foreshadowing quote he penned at the age of 18: “Realize the importance of everyone in your life before the clock runs out of time.”
I am grateful for the 60 minutes that I have spent in the company of a Medium. Utilizing his God-given ability to communicate with the other side, he provided me with concrete evidence that Mark did not die, he merely changed form. He also confirmed that Mark is well and spends time in the loving company of my parents, grandparents and his own father, Alan.
I am grateful for the signs Mark has sent to let us know that he is around. It is relatively easy for those in spirit form to trigger things that are electrical, and Mark has taken full advantage of this form of communication. He has managed to turn on lights and an iPod, and also tinkered with the clock in one of our cars, to name a few things. Mark used the Medium to confirm that he was responsible for causing the alarm in his Honda Accord to suddenly begin honking numerous times in the days and weeks after he passed. Funny for Mark. (The Medium heard him chuckle as he took credit for this prank.) Not so funny for our neighbors, especially the time he tripped the alarm at 1:00 AM.
I am grateful for the gift of time. I left my job on March 30th and have spent the better part of nine months doing things that have aided in my healing. By far the most productive form of therapy has been writing. My journal and this blog have provided me with a safe place to vent and share my feelings and perspectives. Grief can take a toll on the body, so it is important to get your feelings out, whether this takes place in a grief support group, talking with family and friends and/or getting your thoughts and feelings scribbled onto paper or typed on a computer.
I am grateful for my spouse, the Guy in my life. He, too, has suffered greatly as a result of this tragedy, yet he always has my back. It was Guy who encouraged me to leave my job and take time to absorb and process all that has taken place. He listens to my woulda, shoulda, coulda moments in regard to things I did or did not do in the weeks before Mark’s passing. He is my number one fan and consistent reader of all of my writing. And, he is currently supporting and gently nudging me as I quietly and diligently work to complete a project that has been a goal for quite some time.
Lastly, I am grateful for the 20 years, one month and one day that I shared with my son. My very human mind tells me that it was not enough, and that there were SO MANY things left to do and experience, but my soul knows that our time together was up. Mark fulfilled his journey and has moved on, and I remain here to complete mine. I know this loss can never be fully healed, but I know that my life still has purpose. And so, I will do my best to fulfill my earthly lessons in my remaining days, weeks, months or years, and take comfort in the fact that Mark and I will be together again one day.
And now back to that can of Coke. One week ago, just days before all of the forced joy and festivities that accompany Christmas, the fella that picks up our recycling did something that not only made me laugh but reinforced my belief that most people are good and thoughtful and even a tad bit funny and mischievous.
A few months ago, my husband happened to be home on a Thursday, our normal garbage pickup day. He saw the recycling truck pull up, grabbed some money from his wallet and proceeded down our driveway where he struck up a conversation with the driver. Just a few weeks before, another employee of our local waste management company had been struck and killed as he went about his daily route. My husband had been touched by the news of this tragedy and he wanted to make a small donation to the family. He figured he could use our driver to deliver this contribution. During the course of that brief driveway conversation (and unbeknownst to me), my husband shared a story or two about his own close encounters on the road as a driver for Pepsi. Apparently, this rather brief interaction left an impression on the young man.
Our recycling was picked up last Thursday morning, right on schedule. After the driver emptied the contents of our can, he closed the lid, wheeled it back to its spot on the driveway and placed a small, red gift on top. He then climbed back into the vehicle and drove off. I happened to be in the kitchen at the time and looked out the window and saw something on top of the can. I immediately ran outside to see what it was. As I approached our receptacle, I spotted a single can of Coke wrapped in a red ribbon. I recalled the encounter a few months earlier between my man and this driver and instantly surmised that my husband must have shared that he was employed by Pepsi. I jumped in my car and found our Secret Santa one street over. I pulled up behind the truck, found its driver and proceeded to ask him if he had left us a gift. He smiled and nodded yes. He also confirmed that my husband did indeed share that he was a driver for Pepsi. I KNEW it! We had a good laugh about his “gift,” and I thanked him for his kind, thoughtful and comical gesture. He would have no idea that his holiday prank not only made a sad lady laugh, but also reaffirmed her belief that most people are good. All thanks to a divine encounter and a can of Coke.
And so, I end this rather long and wordy thank you note. I believe it serves as proof that there is always SOMETHING that we can be grateful for no matter how difficult or challenging or tragic life can be. There is always positive in the presence of negative. And there most certainly is Yin to the Yang. It is my hope that as you put your own wrap on 2018, you take a little time to reflect on the events of these past twelve months and come up with your own gratitude list. And perhaps instead of making this a once-a-year kind of thing, you might even choose to take time each evening before bed to list a few things for which you are grateful. It is a wonderful way to end the day on an upbeat note.
Oh, and by the way, this post was in no way a plug for Coke. Drink Pepsi. My hubby needs a job, at least for a few more years.