The Extra-Thankful Thanksgiving

Exactly three years ago today, my (incredibly healthy and in much better shape than any 73-year-old I've ever known) grandfather was working on his roof and hit his head on the paved driveway as he fell off his 2nd-story deck. He was rushed via ambulance to the hospital where we learned that he was in critical condition and needed surgery to remove a piece of his skull as his brain was swelling so much. The months that followed were filled with uncertainty, as severe traumatic brain injuries are a scary thing to navigate.

During this time, I was in my junior year of college working on a final project for my book art/typography class that involved interviewing both of my parents and arranging their responses on corresponding pages (see more of the project here). I specifically remember a portion of my dad's response as I asked him how he felt about my mom after 24 years of marriage:

"In hard times, like what we're going through right now, she is a trooper. I couldn't have asked for a better help-partner — a better life-partner."

He said a lot of other sweet things about my mom, but that's always been the piece that stood out to me the most. Exactly three years later, it resonates with me more than ever, because in hard times, like what my family just went through, Zach Jones is a trooper. I couldn't have asked for a better help-partner — a better life-partner.

Next to my parents (who slept in a chair or on the hospital floor next to Corrie's bed for five and a half straight weeks), Zach spent the most time with Corrie at the hospital (more than me OR Katherine). I've watched the man that I love help my sister lay down, sit, stand, and walk more times than I can count. On occasion, he even just scooped her up and carried her. He scoured vending machines for snack foods acceptable to eat without a colon (there aren't many, by the way) and sprinted to Starbucks for sister's first post-surgery vanilla latte craving. And to McDonald's for her happy meal craving. And to the nearest gas station for her cherry icee craving.

He searched the hospital floor by floor to find the most comfortable wheelchair... and the sturdiest, unsqueaky walker... and the largest transport cart. He ate fifty meals at the Terrace Café, which I assure you is a feat only accomplished out of love. He napped in a LOT of waiting rooms... waiting rooms with chairs that aren't comfortable for napping. He drove over 2,000 miles in trips to and from the hospital. He became the most cautious wheelchair pusher, ensuring no bumps or jarring movements as he took Corrie outside to feel the sunshine for the first time in two and a half months.

Zach spent hours and hours standing in the hospital hallway to give Corrie privacy as doctors and nurses examined her. Ulcerative colitis certainly isn't the most dignified disease—things that deal with the digestive tract can often be invasive and embarrassing—but none of it ever fazed Zach. He treated Corrie with such respect and made sure she didn't feel awkward or uncomfortable.

He not only cared for Corrie, but for my entire family. He welcomed Katherine into our apartment as she slept on our couch for three weeks. He made her breakfast in the mornings and drove her to and from the hospital. He did my parents' laundry and ran countless errands for them. He waited in the lobby for extended family members and friends to arrive and helped them navigate their way through the hospital.

It goes without saying that he cared for me. He held me, he cried with me, he comforted me. He encouraged me to eat when I was too worried to even think about food. He prayed with me time and time again. He was an absolute rock during the weeks when I was nothing but a hot mess.

The evening before Corrie coded, my mom said to Zach:
"I've always said that you'd cut off your own arm for Beth if she needed it. But after all of this, I think you'd do that for any of us."
It's true. Since the day I met Zach, I've said he was the most selfless individual I'd ever known. However, there aren't words to describe just how giving he was of himself during the past few months. Life during our "blissful newlywed year" has thrown quite a few challenges our way, yet our relationship continues to strengthen and grow. I am constantly humbled by Zach's unwavering compassion and am honored to be married to a man who reflects the love of Christ on a daily basis.

This Thanksgiving, I am incredibly grateful to not only celebrate the miracles of both my grandfather and my sister, but also the first Thanksgiving with my blessing of my husband.

"I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all of my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done.
I will be filled with joy because of You."
Psalms 9:1-2a

Amen and amen. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.