……to look back at the year and remember what we’re thankful for.
Every year at Thanksgiving time, it’s been a personal tradition for me to dust off my “attitude of gratitude” and reflect on my blessings. This year, it would seem that I haven’t had much to give thanks for. Last year I thought I’d seen the worst, but my essay on the events of 2012 (written for my nursing website) reads like schoolgirl hyperbole when I think about what’s happened during 2013.
A son’s disastrous marriage and losing him—at least for the time being—to whatever demons live within him. Multiple bipolar meltdowns and the loss of the best job I’d ever had. The loss of economic security as Will and I fell into poverty. My sister’s calamitous hip fracture that made it necessary for her to move to assisted living after a two-month stay in rehab. My grandson’s accident that broke his arm and required surgery. The realization that I can’t do clinical nursing anymore, or management, or much of anything else in this profession. The crossing of yet another of my fur-kids over the Rainbow Bridge.
But all of that was nothing compared with learning that Will had cancer that had already spread to his liver by the time it was caught in July. On top of that, we’d lost our health insurance in May and had no way to pay for treatment…..and before summer had baked its way into fall, we were $30,000 in debt.
Now what would you think is there to be thankful for in a year like this? It took me a little while, but here’s what I came up with:
1) I’m thankful that there are medications that can help Will, if not cure him, and that there are programs that pay for treatment for people who can’t afford it. The drugs he is on cost $8,000 a month; that’s far more than I’ve ever made per month in my entire life. Sometimes Big Pharma really does have a heart…..thank you, Novartis!
2) I’m thankful that the other three of my four children are happy, well-adjusted, and working hard to make their dreams come true. They are wonderful people, and I am more proud of them than of anything I’ve ever done. Sometimes I wonder how they survived growing up in our chaotic household, but they are made of stronger stuff than I ever gave them credit for.
3) I’m thankful for the ability to experience and enjoy the world’s sensory delights. I love the vivid colors, the array of aromas, the exquisite melodies of life…..all of it like poetry, even the peaks and valleys. Sometimes it all becomes a little intense, even overwhelming, but always worthwhile.
4) I’m thankful that despite all the difficulties I’ve had in my profession, I am still a nurse. I love the people I work with and the atmosphere in which I work, which is unfailingly supportive even when I’m having trouble staying afloat in stormy seas.
5) I’m thankful for my sleepy little river town, which is generally thought of as a place you’re FROM, not a place you’d move TO; but when we came here twenty-five years ago, we knew almost instinctively that we’d never leave. Like most smaller locales, it has character, as well as its assortment of characters who are rarely out of the public eye for long. But more than that, our people are here, our church is here, my amazing doctor is here, and indeed my whole life is here. In this day and age when Americans always seem to be on the move, we love the stability we’ve found here…..this is home.
6) And of course, I’m thankful for all of my friends. My husband says you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting at least three…..not a day goes by without my hearing from several, if only on Facebook or here at bpnurse.com, to check in with me and see how things are going, or to tell me what’s going on in their lives. I am truly blessed in this department!
As we gather together at the table of thanksgiving, I hope readers will pause to reflect on what they are thankful for, and to share their bounties with the rest of us.