I owe you a blog. I told you months ago that I would follow up with the rest of our sweet Olivia's story. I don't know if I've been avoiding this but there's something I have to tell you. Something I *must* put in writing.
Grief was my best friend and my worst enemy in the days that followed Olivia's death. But thankfulness saved my life.
It had already been the anthem for my 2012. It had dug deep into my pores for the kind of cleansing that bleach and fire can't provide. It was becoming second nature and first instinct. Utterly, genuine thankful - a bursting heart that saw everything as a gift. Every trial and error, every gift and possession. Health and home. Marriage and children. Thanksgiving gave birth to faith so my walk with Jesus was deeper than ever and I found myself oh-so-near to the heart of God.
And then my daughter died.
Because her umbilical cord strangled her to death.
Even in those shadows, there was a flame that stood there waiting for me. It was there, in the grief and for the grief, and didn't lead me out of the shadows. It stayed with me in the shadows because the grief was all I had left of our baby girl. It was the oddest comfort because it was something. And the grief was not dangerous because it was lit by the flame of a thankful heart. An ancient and old heart that had weathered through small rain storms and was well-stocked and prepare for the storm of the century.
I'm so thankful Olivia was with us for nearly 22 weeks. I'm so thankful we had seen her on June 6th and learned she was a girl. I'm so thankful that I didn't miscarry in the first trimester when the placenta tore. I'm so thankful she was my fourth baby and not my first.
I am thankful she died only knowing the warmth of my body and sound of my heart's rhythm. I am thankful that, as time passes, I am moving closer to her, and not further away. I am thankful that God, and not my enemy, wrote the days of her life and determined the day of her death.
Simply put: thankfulness is a choice that must be practiced when it's easy so that the habit will overtake when it's hard. Cultivating a lifestyle and mindset of grateful is like a shield in crisis. It will protect the most damaged and violated heart from bitterness and anger. It will light your darkness and carry your heart through the storm. And you might even find that, one day, it will save your life.