Many many thanksNovember 25, 2010 at 9:23 am | Posted in little bug, Little O | 1 Comment
It’s too easy to simply rattle off a list of that for which I’m thankful. There is the obvious: that I’m employed in a shaky economy and that we don’t want for anything material. That I have healthy children. That I have a supportive, healthy husband.
I’d like to think I’m unconsciously thankful all the time, not just on this one day where we’re sort of forced to think about and articulate gratitude. Yet I’ll admit that I can be a glass-half-empty, grass-is-always-greener type of person (I think this stems from a life-long struggle to be “perfect” rather than inherent negativity in my personality). Articulation of my gratitude, then, while it might feel forced at Thanksgiving, is never a bad thing. And this year, especially, my “thanks” extends to some not-so-obvious things. So I’ll do so here, in this quasi-public forum, if only so that by sending my feelings of peace and gratitude out into the ether, I can solidify them in my heart.
Little O, surrounded by some of his “big” cousins
I’m thankful for my brand new baby nephew. I have 14 nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family whom I’ve gotten to know over the past four years — from the youngest, a shy six-year-old, dark-eyed beauty; to a tall, blonde, imaginative 12-year-old; to my Irish nieces who spent the summer with us; to the strapping Columbia University football star; to the oldest, my 27-year-old “nephew” (I have trouble thinking of him in that somewhat diminutive term!) an intelligent charmer and fellow English major whom I wish we saw more. They have enriched my life and I love them each. But this year, just one month ago, after years of wait and hope and determination, my sister had a baby. He is perfect, of course. To witness your sister have a child of her own, and become a mother, and then, also, to love a child who is not your own but yet is your blood — well, that has been more overwhelming that I would have known. I’m grateful that my sister and her husband were open to all avenues that would get them their baby. I’m in awe that my sister kept her spirits up as her friends, one by one, had babies of their own. I’m amazed by modern science. As I watch my baby boy crawl around the feet of his cousin (safely snuggled in a bouncy seat), I imagine them growing up the best of friends. And I’m so, so grateful.
And, then, there is Health, with a big capital “H”. My father died 11 years ago after having cancer for more than two years, and so of course I understand that health is not something to be taken for granted. But in those 11 years we healed and recovered and we all stayed healthy and, once again, I started to take it for granted. This fall, in the course of a month, both my mother and beloved stepdad were in the hospital for heart issues. A strange coincidence, but it was a month of uncertainty and, yes, fear. When you lose a parent, the health of your remaining parent becomes paramount. The anxiety I felt during my dad’s illness began to creep back into my life, especially as my mother was in the hospital for 7, 8, 9, 10 days without an answer. We have an answer now, we think, and both my mom and stepdad seem to be doing fine. Medicated and a bit shaken, but fine. In that crazy month, too, a dear family friend was diagnosed with a horrific form of lung cancer. He will be dead by the end of the year, most likely. So we’re all feeling a bit vulnerable this holiday season, but, as a result, hopefully more aware of our health and our family and the time we have together. Mom and Hank have themselves adopted a kind of “carpe diem” mentality. This is not a bad way to live, and it has mitigated some of general life anxiety I often feel.
To Health, then, and babies, and family, and the present moment. Eat well and drive safely today. Thank you for reading, whoever you are. You keep me writing and connected and thoughtful. A wonderful gift.