“O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for his mercy endureth forever.” Psalm 136:1
Yesterday was Joe’s mother’s birthday. It was the first time that we marked her birthday—without her. November 19, 2012 was the last day that we saw her. That we talked with her. That we kissed and hugged her.
Since then, I’ve thought a lot about the words spoken at her graveside on the morning of her memorial service. The pastor asked each of us to speak one word that, for us, represented her. I’ve been trying ever since to live up to the one simple word that Joe spoke about his mother on that cold, rainy, December morning: available.
Evelyn Patricia Scarano was available. She had time for us, to listen to us, to laugh with us, to sip peppermint tea with us, to make a dinner for us. As busy as my schedule can be, like Joe’s mom, I never want people to know it. I want the ones whom I love to feel like they are my only priority, to feel like I have nothing else in the day to do but to listen to them over the phone, or to watch their giant Hotwheels race.
It’s now been eight months since we lost Nana. It’s also been eight months since we lost the hope of a new life. This month (last week, to be exact) is also when we would have welcomed a baby into our family, if I’d carried last fall’s pregnancy to term. But, it was not meant to be.
It was after these events that I posted my last blog entry here in November. I did not mean for it to be my last, and it may have seemed like to some that I had. But by God’s grace, the story does not end there.
Three months after the surgery to remove the ectopic pregnancy, and for the first time in our married lives, we “tried.” A few weeks later when I took the pregnancy test, I did not know what to expect. At 35 years-old and with only one fallopian tube, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have another baby. The thought crushed me, which is partly why we decided to try for a third child in the first place.
The emotions were all different as I waited for the home pregnancy test results this past March. Instead of dread, there was hopeful expectation. Instead of fear, there was excitement. Miraculously perhaps, the test came back positive. I felt, and still do, that the child I now carry is nothing short of God’s special gift to me. I had no reason to expect it, and I had no rights to it, but God, in his mercy, decided that I should have it.
We are set to meet this new little person sometime during the week of Thanksgiving—exactly one year from the events of last year that I wrote about in my final blog post. The providential and redemptive timing of it all is not lost on us. Nor has it been lost on our closest friends and family. To top it all off, after two boys, God is blessing us with a daughter. This Thanksgiving, like last Thanksgiving, we’ll have a lot to be thankful for.
Sometimes I wish everything in my life could be as “easy” as getting pregnant again was for us. We didn’t have to wait, or wonder, what if?
We wait for other things, though. And when the waiting is counted in years, not weeks or months, it can be devastatingly hard. Even more impossible, it seems, is waiting with the right attitude, an attitude of faith, hope, trust, peace, joy, contentment, and without a sense of “I deserve this.” I am more inclined to grumble, to complain, and to wallow in self-pity.
One day this past spring, my son Henry found a lemon on the counter and, with a big, black marker, he drew a smiley face on it. He proudly presented it to me, saying, “Look, mom!” It really spoke to me in that moment because I had been feeling pretty down. The lemon has been sitting on my kitchen windowsill ever since to remind me of God’s message to me that day: when life gives you a lemon, draw a smiley face on it. I did some deep cleaning in my kitchen yesterday and—finally—had to throw it out. It was so brown and hard that I could barely make out the four-year-old scribbles that had touched my heart so many months earlier.
Sometimes, though, our lemons are so sour or bitter or big that smiley faces can’t fix them. When we wait and wait and don’t receive, a smile seems like a shallow solution, which brings me back to Nana. I think she had found the answer to waiting. At her memorial service, many people stood up—family and friends–and spoke about her, and shared about her, and quoted some of her most well-known and trusted sayings. One that has stuck with me the most since then is, “If you’re not thankful, you’re sinful.”
The key to waiting happily is being thankful for the little things while waiting for the big thing. This was a lesson God was teaching me last year, through my “Jesus Loves Me” journal, but I had already begun to forget it. Thanks, Nana, for reminding me. I miss your wisdom, your smile, and your listening ear.
Happy birthday. We love you.