MAKING SENSE OF MY GRIEF: An attitude of gratitude

The sun is shining. I am glad to be alive. I remember the orange capers that blossomed next to the river in ‘The Lane’ in Stellenbosch where you kissed me for the first time. You kissed me, held me at arm’s length and proclaimed: “Annette Spies, what are you doing to me? I am falling in love with you.” I became your girlfriend that night, 38 years ago. Our happiness knew no bounds. When the suffering of illness was weaved into the threads of our lives, we found ways to celebrate the small victories in a day.

Today I am grateful for the peace of God blanketing me from head to toe as I sit in your office working on a report to a funder. I am grateful to be a Christian, believing that through your death, you were birthed into eternal life. I am grateful to sit in your chair knowing that you are living in the everlasting peace of God’s presence in heaven. What beautiful comfort there is for us as a family knowing that your laughter is resounding in heaven. As your Auntie Johanna said: “No more trouble.” I am grateful to taste the blessing of the love of our children, the two daughters whom I birthed, Danica and Githa, life changers to everyone they encounter. Two sons-in-love whom I prayed for, Sean and Simon, worshippers of God, who brought joy to our lives. I am grateful to see the fruits of your labour in the testimonies that streamed in after your death.

I decided to go to a nearby nursery and walk around between the plants and flowers. I was yearning for the intense colour and smell of hyacinths, but I think their season has passed. On my way there I drove past a street called ‘La Gratitude’. I turned around and parked my car in that street to take a photo of the street name. I walked up and down in the street, actively positioning myself in thankfulness. I will choose an attitude of gratitude as my companion on my journey with grief.

I remember a story you often told at your courses. There was a little boy who, growing up, could see another house on the horizon. At the end of every day, the windows of that house looked like liquid gold. How he yearned to live in that house with the beautiful golden windows. One day when he was big enough, he walked to that house. He met a boy of his own age, who lived in the house with the golden windows. As they talked, the other boy asked him where he lived. He made a gesture in the direction of his house. Oh, the new boy said: “You live in the house with the golden windows, right there on the horizon,” and pointed at the house. The visiting boy turned around and looked at his own house in the distance. The sun was setting, and the windows of his house looked like liquid gold. The light of the setting sun reflected on the windows of both the houses. From inside their own respective houses, they could not notice it.

Psalm 34:8 “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.” Psalm 52:9 “For what You have done I will always praise You in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in Your name, for Your name is good.”

My Lord and God, help me to stand outside the house of my life and see how Your mercy paints the windows gold. I want to notice Your goodness to me and not be envious of the liquid gold of other buildings in the distance. I choose an attitude of gratitude with which to honour You in my grief.

Annette de la Porte

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