Sunday Post 61: Count Your Blessings

Posted by Danny

A couple of years before my maternal grandmother died, she lost her mind. It was a sad sight to see. She was the grandmother who would drop what she was doing when my brother and I came to town. She’d sit in the floor and just be with us. Fond, fond memories.

Her last year or so, she would sit on her couch with a pad of white paper and write, over and over again, count your many blessings. She had lost her mind, moved out of her house, had very few belongings left and yet, the phrase she was compelled to write was count your many blessings.

It sort of makes me feel like a fool.

I have so much to be thankful for, and yet, sometimes I spend a ton more time thinking about what I’ve lost. Understandable, and yet, perhaps too much focus on the wrong thing.

When Lisa died, she wore a necklace that a friend, Charlotte, had given her the weekend after she was diagnosed with cancer. Each of our girls had an identical piece. It had six charms – one with each of the girls’ initials, one that represented love, one for faith and one for hope. I wanted to wear her necklace at Lisa’s Memorial service, for some reason it made me feel closer to her, and I think it sort of represented a bond with my girls.

Charlotte heard me say I wanted to wear that girly necklace and immediately phoned her friend back home in Boulder, the woman who made the necklaces. Overnight I received a one of my own – it was a bit more manly, like dog tags for a soldier. It had three of Lisa’s charms and two of my own – 1) Lisa 2) Always.

The woman who made my necklace and overnighted it to Raleigh had no idea at the time that she would experience a similar loss in the year to come.

You see, her infant daughter, Lilly, died 18 months after Lisa. I have my girls – I am blessed. Sahra lost her daughter – a pain I can’t even imagine.

This woman who worked hard to get me my most prized possession, is now struggling, just like I have. This is her story:

Yesterday morning we held our little girl as she passed into her next adventure. She was loved and held and so peaceful. It happened in moments, she opened her eyes and smiled and then she was gone. She lives in us now, in all of us and in our hearts we will carry her.

Even I, who has experienced such deep grief, cannot relate to her pain.  And yet, we find that with those who have significant loss, good things come. This is Sahra’s response:

My loss leads me to want to find a cure for colon cancer and to help young dads who have suffered similar losses to mine. I’m not sure how I will do that, but I pray that God will open doors. I am determined to do good with the blessings that I have.

Perhaps that helps give meaning to something that seems so meaningless.

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  1. You are making a huge difference, Bruce…to the many who read your posts….to the many who do life with you and with your girls….to my daughter, Anna who models much of her parenting after you and Lisa….

    Thank you….Anna’s mom, Ruth

  2. Aunt Susan

     /  March 4, 2012

    Usually with the posts that are emotional I wait a few hours or days to respond. But this one
    hit so close. I remembetr being at your house when Sam Robert was baptised and I got the call from my friend that they had taken her baby off life support, I could only think that one life was new and another was gone. The gift from Charlotte was so precious. And then to post this on her Grandfathers birthday, I think you are helping a lot of people more than you know or will ever know. It’s a long journey we are traveling, and we affect more people than we are aware, I do believe that somehow, some way you, “Jesse” and the girls are all making a difference.

  3. Your heart aches for yourself and for others. As long as it doesn’t become all about you, you will be helping others, known and unknown. You are on the right path. But that doesn’t mean you will not stumble or fall. As long as you get back up and keep your eyes on finishing what is before you and keep going.
    This blog keeps you in the thoughts of many. It also shows your thoughts are about many! Continue!

  4. whitney

     /  March 5, 2012

    Hi Bruce, I’m Patty and Gary Gardenhire’s oldest daughter, Whitney. I’ve been introduced to your girls and ‘Uncle Jesse’ through A Christmas Carol, and have been following your blog for a few months now. Just wanted to introduce you to another blog about loss with a similar story to yours: You may already know of it, maybe not, but I think Matt’s process of grieving through blogging and giving back may be encouraging to you.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  March 6, 2012

      I did not know about it. Thanks for sharing – I’ll check it out and I remember you. What a great family you have!


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