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I love the idea of Thanksgiving. I love that for just this day, our thoughts are centered on our blessings, instead of what we’re missing. Even when you don’t count the amazing comfort food, just the idea is awe-inspiring. I love that when Aidan gave our blessing, it was full of thanks. Thanks for our home, our food, our family, their teachers, and our friends. This uncoached piece of heaven came from my five year-old’s lips with only one plea: safety for our missing family, Jason and Layla. No, they haven’t quite understood yet that Layla is probably not coming home.

My heart swelled and my eyes pricked, first because Aidan’s prayer was far more consumed with his gratitude than his wants. Second, because his wishes echoed the heart of everyone around the table. I am thankful for my children.

This was the first year I have made my own turkey and carved it. Thanks to Chase’s strep throat, the boys and I flew solo. On “normal” years, whatever our new normal is, I cook all the sides, and Jason fries the turkey. I enjoy the distribution of labor, and it keeps my oven clear. He’s also very proud of his frying skills. =) So this year, I fussed with the meat thermometer, I prepped all the sides, and I hacked the turkey to death in what can only be called a child-like attempt to carve a turkey. But it worked, and our little Thanksgiving was a success.

So when I think about what I’m thankful for, I could list on and on. As hard as it gets some times, and as close as I come to resigning my post as Household 6, I have too many blessings to count.

But today, I am thankful most for the ache.

There is an ache in my heart that at times threatens my thoughts, my actions, and my sanity. As melodramatic as that might sound, there’s simply no other way to put my feelings when Jason is deployed. I miss him with an intensity that is unexplainable to anyone else but a military spouse. Every minute of every day, I am distracted by questions of what he’s doing, if he’s safe, if he’ll really make it home to me. There are a thousand funny moments with the kids that I can’t share with him. But on this Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for that ache. That ache keeps me connected to Jason in a way that no letters, or phone calls can. That ache keeps me running for the phone, sitting by the computer, and planning our trips for when he returns. This gnawing ache is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to love someone so much that I feel this way when he’s gone. Of all the blessings in my life, this ache is a constant reminder of my biggest blessing: Jason.

Without Jason there would be none of my boys. Without Jason, I wouldn’t have someone who loves me unconditionally. Without Jason, there would be no crazy, hectic life. Sure, without Jason there would be no heartbreaking months of fear and doubt, but there would also be no rush of uncontainable joy when I finally get my arms around him. Yes, he is the biggest gift God has ever given to me.

So for this Thanksgiving, we’re thousands of miles apart on different continents, but this ache keeps him here with me while I do a hack-job on the turkey. Don’t worry baby, next year I’ll gladly hand you back the carving knife. Next year, this ache will be gone, but I’ll still be just as thankful for you.

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