A few months ago while visiting my sister and her family, we had a conversation about how sometimes bad things that happen end up making really funny stories later on. My sister chimed in. “Like just the other day when I was…” She glanced over at my brother-in-law, who was giving her the death stare, and trailed off. “Nope.” He shook his head. “Needs more time. Not funny yet!” Turns out they had just bought a new bike carrier to go on the roof of their car. My sister had taken the kids on a bike ride across town, and when they arrived home, she’d forgotten that with the bike rack she needed an extra 3 feet to clear the garage door. The bikes and bike rack stripped off the top like a banana peel. Both the car and the rack were in bad shape, resulting in weeks of car repairs and a new mode of transporting bikes needing purchased.
I’m not sure that anything really good came of that sad situation, but it did eventually make for good story material once enough time had passed for the funny factor to finally sink in. Looking back, so many things in my life that once felt like a hard or horrible experience ended up being much more than I had expected at the time, whether it became comic relief, gratitude that it wasn’t any worse, or a blessing in disguise.
“It’s funny how, when things seem the darkest, moments of beauty present themselves in the most unexpected places.” Karen Marie Moning
My Grandma passed away a little over two years ago from cancer. Like most battling that monster, she had spent the last few exhausting years in and out of doctor appointments, chemo treatments, and hospital stays. The summer before she left, she and my grandpa made the decision to forego treatments and spend the little time they had traveling and focusing on family. While I was down visiting one weekend, I sat in the car alone with my grandma. “Chelsi,” she said, “I know I’m going to die. But I want you to know that I’m not scared. I’m not worried. I will be fine.” Earlier on after her diagnosis I remember her saying, when referring to her children who had grown distant from each other, “If this experience brings my family closer together, it will all have been worth it.” At her funeral a few short weeks after my visit, all seven of her children greeted each other with loving embraces, shared memories, and tears of both loss and gratitude. I’m sure Grandma was up in heaven smiling.
Watching my grandma fight a loosing battle was never easy, but I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to see a side of her I hadn’t quite realized was there. The quiet courage, fierce determination, graceful resolve, and strong faith set in her face that day in the car has strengthened me many times since.
“To live greatly, we must develop the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility.” Thomas S. Monson
It’s funny how often the most difficult times and bitterest trials end up teaching and shaping us to be stronger, more compassionate, more caring, more brave, more grateful, or more determined. While I’d never wish for some the difficult things I’ve experienced or have watched loved ones face, I am grateful for the silver linings that somehow always seem to find their way through the gloom.
This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for those undesirable situations that make for great stories later on. I’m thankful that time can make bad situations seem better, if not occasionally humorous. And I’m thankful that when the clouds come, there’s silver lining to make it just a little easier.
“No matter our circumstances, no matter our challenges or trials, there is something in each day to embrace and cherish. There is something in each day that can bring gratitude and joy if only we will see and appreciate it.” “Dieter F. Uchtdorf