What I am thankful for...
I’m sitting here thinking on the things I am thankful for at this time in my life - there are so many things. Loss has so altered my perspective, so altered ME, that I am more grateful now even in the midst of difficulties. And, believe me, there are still hard and difficult things going on in my life. I don’t deny those at all and I am certain that the tears will fall in the next few days and weeks. But in the midst of that, I am thankful.
I am thankful for happy memories and the reality of love and joy. Holidays are now much different than they were years ago when I was surrounded by a big family and the laughter of children and our family felt very normal, whole and complete, with generations intact and this great big family tree spreading over me and reassuring me at every gathering. I am thankful I have those beautiful memories, thankful I have been loved well my entire life, thankful for growing up under that graceful and protecting arch of multiple generations of family.
Now, however, big, noisy, warm family gatherings (at least on my side of the family) are not my present reality. I will not allow my mind to dwell on what I don't have, however. I have learned that this is a quick road to feelings of hopelessness and insanity. I will be thankful for what I do have.
I have a husband and best friend that loves me dearly, showing me patient understanding. He is more than I deserve. Even though my mother’s dementia is worsening, and I feel I am losing her as well in many ways, I am thankful that I have loving parents that care about me and encourage me and I am thankful for the good moments with my Mom. I am thankful my children love me, and are responsible and kind adults, learning to navigate in this world without the comfort and presence of their Dad. I am thankful for family and friends who have patiently loved me through my darkest hours, and my angriest moments and who still are by my side to celebrate my victories both big and small as I fight forward. They never stopped believing in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. And I am thankful I have sweet memories of 31 Thanksgivings and Christmases with Phil.
I am also thankful for a strong and healthy body - I no longer take this for granted. I relish being able to stand on my paddle board and feel the muscles in my core tighten and the muscles in my shoulders and back flex as I slip my paddle into the water and move on down the river. I love being able to take long walks or lift things as I need to. I am thankful that, in this moment, my body is functioning properly, even if I might never fit into a size 10 again.
I am thankful for the ability to learn, for a mind that is curious, for books to help me grow and stretch, for increasing clarity and for that dang widow’s fog to be receding some finally. I am thankful for my sweet Ruby girl, my warm and cozy home, sunsets and the wind in the tree tops, the lake that I drive by every day, sunshine on my face, and hope.
I am particularly thankful for hope. Without hope I would have given up long ago, but somehow, hope kept coming back again and again, even as I lay facedown on the floor. So, whatever dark spot you find yourself in, keep holding on to hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a returning joy, hope for a new beginning, hope for a solution and hope for transformation.
I am also deeply grateful for things that may sound out of the ordinary. I am thankful for new beginnings. Endings are not just endings, they are also beginnings, although we cannot see that at first. We have to live into it. I am thankful for a heart that is learning to be more compassionate and judge much, much less. It’s so much more peaceful just to love. I am grateful, yes GRATEFUL, for all the lessons life - and death - have taught me. I am thankful that I am hopefully growing wiser as I learn from my own mistakes and the lessons life so faithfully dishes out. I am relieved that I am learning to love myself more, granting myself an acceptance I did not know in younger years. I am overjoyed that my heart is stretching and learning to love in new ways, and that I am making choices in my life based more on love and hope instead of that ever nagging fear. I am grateful I am learning to take chances on life, to walk forward with courage. I am thankful I am learning to let go, to say good-bye to what I cannot keep, and to open my hands in acceptance. Not everything is in my control. In fact, maybe not much of anything is. I am thankful I am able to be more at peace with that.
Life moves on, doesn’t it? Like a never ending river it winds it’s way through valleys and pasturesand mountains. The view is ever changing. Life does not remain the same, however much we loved what we once had. The river contains currents of both joy and sorrow.
In this new reality, I will make new memories. And I will remember and focus on the love. Always the love. It is still here with me, enveloping me from generations and years past, as well as my present. For that I am thankful.