Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What I'm Truly Thankful For

It's November and my Facebook News Feed is filled with wonderful messages of daily gratitude that my friends have shared.  I love reading these messages and I am ultimately jealous because I will never be so on top of things to post a positive tribute each and every day.  I'd be the one with multiple bullet points or numbers, struggling to catch up to the current calendar day of thanks.

And so it got me thinking.  What am I genuinely happy and thankful for?  What is the essential element that we all reference in our own words of specific thanks and gratitude?

LIFE.  I'll say it again: LIFE.

This crazy, wacky roller coaster we are on with its unexpected turns, the highs and lows, the seemingly endless black tunnels that eventually open up to a burst of brightly colored images whirling past us at a breakneck speed.  We can't possibly take in all of the details that are constantly hurled at our overwhelmed senses.

I was thinking about a new life that recently entered into my own family and that, in turn, caused me to remember the ones that have also left my family.  It's a balance.  Life marches on.  My young son noticed the strong connection between death and new life, especially since the passing of both grandfathers was soon followed by the birth of a new cousin.  I am so grateful to welcome a sweet, pure soul to my family, my community, and to this world.

What would I teach this new person?  First, this is not The Game of Life.  We don't all start out with a fair share of the money, with a guarantee of a job or salary.  You may stumble upon more of life's pitfalls than some.  You should be thankful for all of the gifts you are given along the way.  You should always support those who are closest to you.  Who else is guaranteed to be there for you besides your family?  My parents are both gone.  It's just me and my two brothers and our growing families.  That's really what it boils down to.  In my spin around the gameboard I've been lucky to assemble a cheering squad of friends in my work and my community who I consider my extended family.  And of course, my own nuclear family and in-laws who support me all the time.

I used to be resentful of people who could not know my pain.  How could they be happy when one of my loved ones was no longer on this earth?  Why did their grandparents get to live longer than my mother?  Why did my grandmother, in her senility, get to outlive her own daughter?  She didn't even comprehend the loss.  Then I realized that I could not begrudge another person's happiness because of my own sense of loss.  New life demands a celebration.

I can't count how many times I have been present when an innocent life has slipped free of its earthly body, when a patient has finally given up the painful struggle.  I believe in angels.  I have to.
So many tiny eyes never get to witness the beauty of a butterfly's wings while others grow weary of the sight, distracted by artificial images of the world around them.

Photo credit: Life of David / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

So I say, to my new niece, to my children, to my friends and family: Go out and embrace LIFE.  Take it in, wonder at the good and the bad that it has to offer.  Look at everything as if through a child's eyes.  Do it for those little ones who will not be able to see it for themselves.  Do it for your own children, so that they can learn what it means to be grateful for what they have, even if it the thanks may be meager.  Teach happiness and love by example.

This November, I am grateful for this amazing journey LIFE has given me.

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