|[The day of my husband's funeral]|
It's the second day into the new year, and tonight I fed my children a meal that was placed in my freezer at some point within the last 3 months. I have not been to the market in almost 15 weeks. Paper goods magically appeared and have seemed to reproduce in my house. The most I have done for my children has been to buy the occasional gallon of milk, replace my son's deodorant, and make sure they have clean underwear (and even that's been iffy).
Meals have been brought to my mother-in-law, food has been dropped off to my parents, gifts have been left on my porch and delivered to my husband's station. Countless emails and messages have been received, along with phone calls, voicemails, and text messages.
Tonight as I placed a prepared meal into my oven, I was completely overwhelmed with the realization of just how much my family has been loved, prayed for, and served. It's been over 3 months and I still have meals to feed my children. I have bundles of gift cards to markets and restaurants. YOU are feeding my family.
Not only has my family been served physically with meals, gifts, and more recently the helpful put-up and tear down of Christmas, but the absolutely mind blowing generosity of so many from all over the country has honestly moved me to tears.
For the last 3 months, my children and I have literally been living off of the generous hearts of so many. I bet you didn't know that. I am willing to bet that you did not realize that each donation that has been made has truly been helping my family. From the mortgage, to counseling, to those gallons of milk, I truly don't know where we would've been without your generosity.
The community of which my husband served, the community in which we live, and the town of which he was serving at the time of his death, each held fundraiser after fundraiser to help our little family as a way to honor my husband. Repeatedly I would say, "I can't believe it. I can't believe how nice people are being to us."
Family, friends, and strangers have sent cards, homemade gifts, plaques, statues, patches, pictures, and stories. I have kept every single thing that has been sent to me, whether directly to my home or to the department's headquarters, I have held onto and cherished all of it. I have bundles of drawings from children, and invitations to Hero Days at schools that aren't even in my hometown. I have notes from Girl Scout troops, prayer cards from churches, and letters from dignitaries (even the President).
You will never know what you have done for my heart. You have supported me with your words, lifted me up with your kindness, and carried me with your love.
There were many, many nights I spent sitting at my kitchen table poring through hundreds of letters that seemed to make their way to my hands every time my husband's Captain would come to my home. If I had the address of somebody who sent a card or a note to me, I was sending a thank you card.
I loved writing those cards because with each name I wrote, I smiled and thanked God for the love He was showing to me. Because here's the truth: your thoughtfulness, your generosity, your kindness, and your sacrifice were used to deliver God's message to me.
Five days after losing my husband, I begged God to stay close to me and to speak to me in a way in which I knew He was near.
And then came all of you.
You are an answered prayer.
Thank you for serving my family. Thank you for loving us, without even knowing us. Thank you for taking care of us while we try to find our "new normal." Thank you for being the example of what we should all strive to be.
YOU are the messengers of hope, love, encouragement, strength, and perseverance.
YOU turned God's love into something tangible, something real, and something that I can't ignore.
YOU are the light in my moments of darkness.
YOU will forever be imprinted on my heart.
"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart." Philippians 1:3-4
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
From the bottom of my grateful heart.
|[One of the many nights filled with gratitude for you]|