On the morning my grandfather died, my husband kept it a secret from me for several hours. I had been working on a deal at the office that had me essentially sleeping there for months. Routinely working right through the weekends, I missed weddings, girls’ nights and anniversaries. All of my connections to the outside world were being compromised, and I was left feeling vulnerable, exhausted and beaten down. My heartsickness for family, friends and fellowship grew by the day, and I was continuously awash with guilt that I had traded all of the good in this life for an ephemeral, hollow vision of success.
My husband knew very well what I had been going through, as he was living this nightmare with me. No wife, no life, no peace. So, that Saturday morning, he was determined to take me out for breakfast, before I clocked in for another prolonged weekend at work.
That Saturday morning, I went ahead to our car, and right before he walked out of the house, he got the phone call from my parents. They chatted and he finally came to the car after what seemed like an endless period of waiting.
It was only later I found out that he and my parents had decided on that phone call to wait in telling me the news about my grandfather–the grandfather whom I loved and adored.
You see, even my parents had known what I was going through that season. When they found out that my husband was planning a relaxing, albeit brief, breakfast for me that Saturday morning, they selflessly put aside their desire to grieve with me, so that I could have a warm, filling and life-affirming breakfast–a breakfast devoid of stress, anxiety and grief.
Years later, I still remember that breakfast. My husband kept me in stitches of laughter, he tenderly told me how much he loved me, and he protectively pulled me close to him–all the while, ordering a schmorgasbord that constituted every taste offering on the menu.
I allowed myself to be completely free during that breakfast, taking in the pampering and all the attendant nurturing and loveliness inherent therein. I strolled out beaming, and briefly forgot about the impending hellishness of another weekend spent at work.
We walked back to the car and it was then that he told me.
It was then that I ran to be with my parents.
It was then that I cried for an entire month straight.
At the time, I remember being so angry with them over this ridiculous notion that I should wait to hear about his passing.
Now, close to a decade later, I see that they put my joy before their pain.
My husband, my mom and my dad had put me first that morning.
They chose to breathe life into my fading husk, while death swirled all around them.
Some may see their decision as misguided grief, but I see it for what it is: an unmerited, generous gift from them that I will always carry with me and treasure. Given by them to me, at a time of great grief and sorrow.
And, for that, I am thankful.
Mom, Dad and D: I love you for what you chose to pour into me that Saturday morning. This Thanksgiving weekend, I honor, remember and cherish your gift. May I be blessed with the opportunity to sacrificially pass it forward to my own children someday.