I am no longer thankful

It was July of 2000.  It was hot.  Real hot.  Perpetual heat only made worse with high humidity. There was with no relief in sight.  It was the long hot summer on steroids and I had just accepted the reality that  all my grass and rose bushes were toast.  Even walking from my house to the mailbox left my clothes soaked in sweat. I constantly, along with everyone else, begged God  for rain.

And then, it finally happened. A drop.  Then a shower.  And then a down pour.  It didn’t last too terribly long but it came.  It  cooled the air slightly and I was beckoned into my back yard to watch the final drips evaporate from the trees.

As I walked out my door I smiled at the now-normal sight: Robert, a 5-year-old neighborhood boy, once more on his knees next to our tiny, shallow goldfish pond.  He was slowly stirring things up with a stick.  

The Triplets: Sarah Michelle, Julia, and Robert

Robert is one third of a triplet group and one of six children. Because of a recent and horrific tragedy, his family had moved to our neighborhood and into the ‘big house’ on the cul-de-sac.  Only seven months earlier, on December 30 of 1999, while the rest of Robert’s family were out running post-Christmas errands, the triplets were in their house with their older sister, Chrissy, and a babysitter.  It was a typical day and the three of them were  running back and forth from the bedroom (where the TV was) to the kitchen (where the chocolate chip cookie dough was).

Then, suddenly, likely from the Christmas tree lights shorting, a fire broke out and quickly consumed the house.  Robert and his sister, Julia, got out, but the third triplet, Sara Michelle, lost her young life.  

Sara MichelleHow does a family relocate and properly mourn the loss of a precious life as well as everything that they knew as ‘normal’? How do two 5-year-olds grieve their triplet not being an arms reach away anymore?  How do they process such a dramatic and untimely disaster from which they escaped?  Does that take months? Years? A lifetime? Kids think so concretely that, honestly, all they can do is the next thing.  Robert and Julia

The grieving family would live in our neighborhood for only a short time, but Robert’s frequent visits to my back yard made a lasting impact on the way I looked at life.  

On this particular summer day, my brief conversation with Robert  forever tweaked my perspective of ‘thankfulness’, moving it to where it should have been in the first place:Robert

He began casually, noting the obvious: “It rained, Miss Karen,” he said, his southern drawl pronounced.

“YES! Yes, Robert, it did.  God finally sent rain.”

“We’ve been praying for rain A LOT, haven’t we?” he continued as he slowly chased the goldfish with the stick.

“Yes, I am very thankful for it,” I said as I looked at him with my hands on my hips, not being fully prepared for how I was about to change.

He continued in his slow, Alabama twang, “Did you THANK Him?”

I stood still, stared at him and he stared back at me as he waited for my answer.  I managed to grin slightly and replied honestly, “No.  No, not yet.  But I will now.”

And I did.

And I still do.

And thank YOU, now 19-year-old Robert, for planting a seed in my heart that dramatically moved me from thankfulness, to thanking Him.

I hear that Alabama twang inside my head more times than you could ever imagine. To some, that may be semantics, to me, it’s  life.

BTW, I miss our talks….



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9 thoughts on “I am no longer thankful

  1. Dear Mrs. Karen,
    This is Robert I just read what you have wrote and I’m happy to hear y’all are well. Thank you for being there for me and my family. I’m glad to know that I can help you out in your life. I have known many people in my 19 years of life but you are someone I’ll never forget. Thank you for being so nice to all of us and letting me play with your fish. I appreciate everything you said to me as a young child and foe all the help you gave to me an my family.
    Sincerely, Robert

    • Robert, It brought tears to my eyes just to see your name…and your kind comments brought even more joy to my heart. You are ONE SPECIAL young man…always have been! Thank you for your big heart, kind words, and giving spirit! Hugs, karen

  2. Mrs.Karen,
    It is such a blessing to be apart of this family. I don’t think I could ever meet a family as loving as them. It’s so funny how a few years ago we were in the same church group an camp having no idea who Julia, an Robert, or his family was. No me an Robert have been together for 1 year an 5 months an I couldn’t be any more blessed. You would still be proud of him because he still amazing me everyday an helps me with everything he can. He grow but I still see him in his little stage where is still that cursious little boy. It tickles me pink. Me an him read together an I just looked an he had the biggest smile on his face. This was a very touching story an he still since he read it talks about it. He was happy to see that he touch someone’s life like that. He tells me about that pond quite often since he read this. Haha.
    Sincerely, Kala.

  3. Mrs.Karen,
    It is such a blessing to me to be apart of this family. They are wonderful people. I haven’t known them long but they already make me feel apart of their family. It is so crazy how just a few years ago we wee in the same church group an church camp. I didn’t even know Julia or Robert when we went. Haha. But now me an Robert have been together for 1 year an 5 months an couldn’t get any better. Me an him read together an it put the biggest smile on mine an his face. This was such a touching story. An still to this day he touches people lives, expecially mine. He is a wonder person an has helped me through a lot. He tells me all the time now since he read this story tells me about the little pond. This was a wonderful story.
    Sincerely, Kala

    • Kala! How sweet of you to write. You sound like you have a pure and tender heart…and I am so glad that you value and appreciate Robert! Bless you!

  4. Hey Mrs. Karen,
    I still read this often. It touches my heart so much to know that Robert had and still has made a huge impact on you. My family and I were truly blessed to have moved into the neighborhood and be so welcomed by your family and a few other families on our street.. Truly Mrs. Karen you will never know how much of an impact you have made on my life and how truly blessed I am to know you and have you in my life. God truly blessed me when he put you in my life. I love you Mrs. Karen and I miss you. I think about you a lot.
    Sincerely, Julia

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