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A thank you

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12 Days of Thanksgiving: DAY TWELVE

Dear friends, two months ago I made a decision to use this forum to open up some of the areas of my life that had been closed to public view for a long time. I made a choice to expand to a new depth the honesty I determined would govern this space when I started EyeJunkie almost five years ago. I wanted to tell a story I’d always considered to be Mike’s, but I now recognize is mine too. It was scary, and born of deep sorrow and disappointment. But, it was also born of a desire to rise from ashes. To break the mask of mental illness and emotional struggles. To lay them bare before an audience to somehow obliterate their shame and secrecy. To say that healing is possible. To say that life is valuable. And worth it. To say that we LIVE at all costs.

In private, I’ve shared with friends that I didn’t want my children to grow up with the life and death of their father shrouded in secrecy. I didn’t want them to be afraid to ask the questions that will inevitably come. To be able to deal in honesty and compassion with the circumstances of Mike’s death. So, I wanted the community around them (near and far) to have an honest and open, albeit painful understanding, and even dialog about these realities. And I wanted to communicate some semblance of a life lived and ended too soon.

Through the process, the voice of my own fears and private sorrows has consistently and quietly spoken, “hush.” But, the voice of so many of you has consistently and persistently urged me to “speak.” In your comments, your posts on social media, your messages and phone calls, your gifts of love and money and tangible things, your prayers and truths shared. All I can say today is thank you.

I’m learning through this journey… To speak is to heal. And to bring healing. So many of you have shared your own stories of struggle after reading something here. And although the tales are all different, the commonalities adhere. And healing emerges. Encouragement emerges. Hope emerges.

All I can say is thank you.

Day twelve. Whew! I have to admit it hasn’t been the easiest effort, to discipline myself toward thanksgiving this year. I think I’ve written about the biblical story of Jacob who wrestled an angel for a night to gain his blessing, and walked away with lifelong scars to prove it. I kind of feel that way. I’ve definitely wrestled. But, I’ve gained the blessing too. Through these different essays and lists and commentaries and images, I think I’ve realized that in this process of thankfulness, hope indeed emerges. To see the good and blessing around us — to recognize it and embrace it — is to defeat despair. There are empty chairs this Thanksgiving, but the table is still full. It is my decision, my choice, to partake. Joy and sorrow. Memories and new experiences. New steps made stronger by the road we’ve traveled. Laughter and tears. All evidences of a table richly spread.

And so, we end where we began.
With God. And His great goodness.
In everything.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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