Thanksgiving should be a time to reflect on all of the blessings that the past year has brought, and to be honest I really have to stop and dig deep to remember the things I have to be thankful for. To put it bluntly, I feel like life stabbed a knife in our hearts this past July and has been slowly twisting it ever since. It’s been one thing after another, after another, after another. But I’m learning that while it’s so incredibly easy to become completely and utterly devastated, bitter, and resentful each time life knocks us down, it’s only adding insult to injury. God never promised us an easy life; He promised that if we stuck it out and followed Him, it would all be worth it in the end. And that’s what I have to choose to live for — the end, which is really just the beginning of eternity. I’ve heard it so many times over the last week or so — that this life is only scraping the surface, just a moment in time in comparison to eternity. A friend of mine said something the other day that really resonated with me. She told me that, although Ryan and I are here on earth grieving and missing Ava for what, to us, is decades upon decades of time, Ava is in Heaven, and in Heaven’s time she’ll only be missing us for a moment before we’ll be right there with her. What a sense of peace that brings me.
It isn’t ‘fair’ that Ava was taken from us so soon and we weren’t able to watch her grow up. I won’t ever be okay with it. However, I believe that God wanted us to have Ava. I believe that it was never His plan for Ava to die, but that he allowed it to happen because we live in a fallen world. I believe that God works in miraculous ways; in ways I could never understand in this life. And I believe that God has his arms wrapped around our precious child and is caring for her, loving her, and giving her everything she needs to be perfectly happy and complete. I wish that the miracle God provided for us was that he saved her from death. Gosh, do I ever wish that. But I am also acutely aware that by welcoming her into Heaven so soon, He saved her from pain, from heartache, from disappointment, and from other earthly things she would have experienced that only He knows about. And when I think about Him saving her in that way, I am thankful. This year, God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl. A child we were able to love during every moment she spent in my womb, during every breath she took on earth, throughout all of eternity. God blessed us with 30 beautiful hours with her. He blessed us with holding her as she entered His arms. He blessed us with a love that we never knew existed before we laid eyes on Ava. Ava changed Ryan and I, and I think that God knew we desperately needed a change. Ava strengthened our marriage and our love for our little family. She changed our perspective; she changed our whole world. These weren’t the blessings I had planned on having this year. I’m still heartbroken, and the holiday season makes me miss Ava even more. But I am blessed. Ava is a blessing. Ryan is a blessing. And in a broken and unfair world, all blessings are a reason to be thankful.