One Thousand Gifts

One Thousand Gifts

One year and one month – that’s how long it’s been.

People have stopped saying “At least you’ve all the firsts over you now.”

I know people meant well and I definitely would rather people said something rather than nothing, but I never quite knew how to respond to that one.

Was I supposed to feel some sense of achievement?

I don’t.

I don’t want anything to be “over me” that increases the distance I feel between me and my daughter.

As time moves on it poses other problems too:

Because I work with families I’m sometimes asked what age my own children are, so I truthfully answer 20, 16, 15 and 11. I omit the fact that our 16 year old is in heaven, forever 16.

I’m there to support these families and to hear their story, not for them to hear mine.

In 7 weeks time my 15 year old will become 16 – what do I tell people then? How do I bluff that one without lying, or making things even more complicated?

Even though it’s been 13 months, the wounds of grief are far from healed, they have a thin scab on top. It takes very little to dislodge that scab and cause those wounds to become raw and bleeding once more.

In church last Sunday I was feeling quite composed, not particularly emotional, none of the hymns that had been sung so far had any particular association with Leah or her illness journey.

Then, while the offering was being lifted, photos of the previous weekend’s Youth Fellowship Residential scrolled on the screen at the front of the church.

Unconsciously, my eyes searched for Leah amongst the photos of the young people, then my heart broke afresh because she wasn’t there.

My husband’s hand gripped my arm, he was crying too.

Like so many other Sunday’s that I’ve sat sobbing in church, I wanted to leave, to escape, to run away, but I forced myself to stay in my seat.

I fear that if I ever get up and walk out, that I will never ever come back.

Not because I’ve fallen out with God – certainly not – but because I would have given in and let the pain have the upper hand.

It would be the easiest thing to do – some times I want to just give in to the pain and let it consume me.

However I’m trying really hard to shift my focus off the pain that threatens at times to consume.

I’m reading a book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.


Before Leah became ill, reading was one of my favourite activities.

I’ve often said that my favourite place to be is in bed with a good book – no 50 S. of G. for me!

Unfortunately, since Leah became ill and died, I’ve really struggled with my concentration and attention span, so reading a book now takes huge amounts of will power.

Ann Voskamp writes in very flowery, poetic language which I have found to be something of an “acquired taste”. I prefer a more direct, down to earth style.

Having said all of that, her book is very good and I’m learning a lot from her.

Ann suffered many adverse experiences in life including witnessing her little sister being knocked down and killed by a truck. She has struggled emotionally, but she eventually learned the importance of giving thanks to God for the many good things that we have in our lives.

This book really is about so much more than this, it’s also about finding God in the everyday moments of our daily lives.

There’s a free app (sadly only for Apple devices like the iPhone or iPad) that you can download and use as an online diary to record all the things that you’re thankful for. You can write in the app and use it to take photos.


It’s helping me to count my blessings, big and small.