In my past when I’ve thought about THANKSGIVING; I’ve always thought about history, family, good food and being thankful for what was immediate in my life. Good friends and family, etc.
Now that I am older and wiser - I think about what it means to be grateful. I think about where I am in my life. At this time.
When I think about how gratitude feels for me now…
I remember where I was two years’ earlier. Contained within a life-imploding health diagnosis. Everything I knew prior to then, becoming null and void, in an instant. And change rapidly approaching whether I was ready or not. Moments may have stilled from time-to-time but the world still rotated expediently around me.
Wandering over to four years ago when my daughter was born. How amazing and beautiful she was. Peacefully sleeping in her hospital carriage. How she has always had a love of music and rhythm to accompany it. All of her firsts. The sound of her laughter and heart-breaking cries. At the big kid, she has grown into, within a mere blink of my eye. How sweet and lovely she truly is. Her innocence. Her fervent desire for independence but incessant need for me. The awareness that one day, she will no longer have this need for me.
Then, back six years, to my first pregnancy. How my nerves seemed non-existent and my heart dedicated to my baby prior to seeing him, feeling him or giving him a name. How, I adored my huge belly and was awe-struck by his constant movement within the confinement of that space. The calm that I felt despite his diagnosis. How he reminded me of a little surfer dude with his kinky blonde hair and cool shades, illuminated by the special lighting to counteract signs of jaundice. How empty I felt leaving the hospital with my baby boy in NICU behind. The amazing little man he is today. His silliness, gentle spirit and incredibly intelligent mind. How breathtaking it is to hear, “I love you, Mom.” And how it will never get old. The hugs, the talks, and the endless adventures.
I remember the overwhelming smell of the urine-filled parking lot where I met my husband for the first time. The night that, over a decade ago, has changed my life completely. How nervous I was to talk to him, but how ‘right’ it all felt. The level of comfort I felt with him. The night he asked me to “officially” be his girlfriend. The afternoon he bent down on one knee. Our commitment to one another. How the years have gone by with ups and downs but our love has never lessened. I think about how I couldn’t even imagine my life without him as my partner walking alongside me through it all.
I flash back to my teenage years. Feeling lost and confused. Making stupid decisions and erasable mistakes. Learning and growing along the way. The pain and fears that threatened my existence, but the inner strength that enabled me to carry on.
The awkward years of middle school. Cheerleading as my only saving grace. Meeting my best friend. Beginning the journey of finding “me.”
Back to a terrified little eight-year old girl. Who had years’ stolen away from her. Fearful and apprehensive. A little girl who knew not what was to come. A young girl who knew too much already about the evil of this world. But was taken out of darkness and brought into light.
So, when I think about gratitude. This year. At this moment. I think about how grateful I am to be HERE. Now.
I feel grateful for the gift of being a mother, blessing of finding love and sharing this life as someone’s wife, the lessons learned from being a sister, the privilege of being a friend, and the grace of Life. Being a living, breathing human being with the determination to live a life that is full. Grateful for who I was at each stage of my life and who I have become. For the lessons and the hardships. The joys and laughter. Tears and pain.
I think about how being alive to live this life, my life, is a gift that I am grateful for beyond measure. How not everyone will know the steps I have taken to get to where I am today or see me for who I am. Not everyone will see my beauty. But, my journey to here and now is uniquely my own. And what is most important is that I can appreciate where I came from and how I got to where I am now. The most important thing is that I realize my beauty. That I appreciate and know what feeling grateful for my life feels like to me.
I know that there are others who have felt pain in other ways. Worse. Lost. Wandering alone. I know that in every bad situation, it could always be worse. And in every great situation, it could always be better. But I also know, it is never about better or worse. It is always about being at peace with where you are at any given moment in your life.
So, this Thanksgiving Holiday I challenge you to carry over your grateful heart and feelings of “thanks” to each day thereafter. Try to make each moment a moment worth bearing a heart filled with gratitude.