It’s Thanksgiving week, and we are thankful the waiting is over. My beautiful mother-in-law breathed her last on earth and is now with the Lord. The long days and nights sitting by her side are over. We were waiting for her to die. Morbid as it sounds, it was a beautiful time. How thankful we are that our faith made it so!


I’ll never forget those moments wondering if each breath was her last. We passed the time listening to her sons recall childhood incidents. Some I never heard before. We laughed ’til we cried and wondered if she heard us. Memories part of her life cycle embraced our hearts like a warm hug. This was one last time for her children to rise up and called her blessed. How thankful we are that Mom loved so well!

Her children arise and call her blessed…

A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Proverbs 31:28, 30

Passing by the casket they came, paying their respects to this 96-year-old-classy lady. Old photos replayed on the wall. The way she was. Vibrant pastor’s wife. Loving mother and grandmother. Incredible teacher. A woman who lived at home what she was in public. Faithful and dedicated to God and her family. How thankful we are for her example!

I used to think funerals were kind of pagan. Visiting a body. Talking about the past. Crying and laughing all at the same time. It made me shutter.

But I view times like this differently now. Especially since I’ve lost my own parents and in-laws. A funeral is where we grieve and where we are comforted. How thankful we are for the peace that passes understanding!

As family and friends came to honor the life of Arlene Cooper, we experienced healing. We stood by her casket as they passed by, and our loss was made a little easier with every story they told. Memories we had long forgotten still fresh in their minds. And each one brought a smile as we learned of the little ways Arlene touched people’s lives. The way she had made a difference in this world. How thankful we are for those stories!

There were flowers. Music. Memories. Words to comfort. Lots of hugs and promises to pray. Arlene’s passing was a celebration of a life well-lived. How thankful we are for the support of loving friends!

We’ve lost her physical presence, but I see her reflection in my husband and children. Strong. Resolved. Yet full of tender compassion. How thankful we are she exhibited both grace and truth, just like Jesus!

We may not fully realize it, but Arlene’s personality and spirit lives on. She invested in us and in the lives of future generations of Coopers. What a legacy she left us! What a rich heritage is ours! May we carry the torch she lovingly handed over to us. How thankful we are for the seeds she planted!

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

I Corinthians 15:55

She’s been missing from our Thanksgiving table for several years now, so why do we feel so sad? Perhaps it’s the finality of her death. And the death of our daughter-in-law’s sister and grandmother. All within the past five months. But we don’t sorrow as those who have no hope. We know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We will see them again. How thankful we are for hope!

These are truths we’ve learned to stake our lives on. In life and death…how thankful we are!

How about you? What on your family’s gratitude list this Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear…

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