The Art of Gratitude

What’s up with gratitude?

I’ve just endured the longest pause ever between blog posts because I didn’t want my sulking to seem ungrateful.  After all, I’m lucky.  Lucky to be here writing, lucky my family is safe, lucky we have a warm house with food to eat.  Lucky, I can go about my life without chemo treatments.

But just the same, gratitude has been scarce the last few weeks while I’ve been home healing, physically, from literally getting my insides knocked around and emotionally…from having my insides knocked around.  I was angry about things.  Furious, an irresponsible teenager destroyed my car, causing me and my husband such painful injuries we barely left our house for almost two weeks, and terrified my boys.

Yet, I hear myself say:

“Our holidays were pretty good.  Things could have been worse.”

Not very convincing.

It seems I’d reached the end of the gratitude road.  Gone as far as I could without the strength to summon it once more.  Instead of feeling truly happy for good circumstances, I was tired of being grateful for things that… weren’t so bad. I was about to wander off the path of accepting the crap life dumps on me time and again, and wallow in the anger of misfortune, but, something kept stopping me.

Turns out, gratitude is clingy.  I couldn’t quite shake it off.  Even though I wanted to, though I felt I had a right to.

It’s hard to forget this kid put my children’s lives in jeopardy.

BUT…

It could have been so much worse.  How can I be angry?  What right do I have to be mad? We are sooo lucky.

Can someone be grateful and pissed off at the same time?

That’s the question I can’t escape.  To me, it’s like two rams butting heads.  The two sides just don’t mesh.  It has to be one or the other.

Then something reminds me.  A blog post, an email… There, but for the grace of God…And suddenly gratitude is looking pretty good.

Perhaps, it’s something we can accept only when looking beyond ourselves.

I’m not religious — just awake.  There’s so much tragedy in the world, sadness and yes, my family’s tale of a head-on collision could have been among those…It’s not.  We’re all here.

Others are not so fortunate and it could happen to any of us, at any moment.

Today, I read Susan at Toddler Planet expressing thanks for just a few pain-free hours spent with her young children.

Yesterday, I learned Laura at The Cancer Assassin isn’t doing well, though she’s trying to handle all the blows she’s been dealt.  Asking for help doesn’t come easily, but she finds herself in that position.  If anyone reading this can help her achieve a better quality of life in Portland, Oregon, please read her story and reach out.

I’m also reminded of my brother’s good friend, Guzzo, from college, diagnosed with a brain tumor in the mid 80’s and suffering the physical and financial consequences ever since.

Both Laura and Guzzo are near destitute because they got sick, because treatment kills the good cells along with the bad.  Because it’s nearly impossible to hold down a job when you can’t drive, think straight, see, hear or even stand up.  Insurance, when lucky enough to have it, doesn’t provide a free ride and just living on the absolute bare minimum is sometimes out of reach.

If anyone knows of any resources or support services for someone living with long term effects of a brain tumor, specifically in upstate New York, please email me and I’ll pass on the information.

So, yeah, my car was totaled.  I got a new one.

My boys and husband are here with me.  Alive and well.

We’re fine and yes, overwhelmingly grateful.

I’ll take it.

Have you ever experienced conflicting emotions about gratitude?