Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sign Posts of Gratitude

When in possession of an unwanted benign brain tumor, and the havoc that causes, the feelings of gratitude may be a little more challenging for me to touch daily, but they don’t go away. In fact, recognizing what I am honestly grateful for picks me up when I’m down. Feeling gracious and thankful when life is giving me big reasons to shrug and be sunk into self-pity is not natural, perhaps. Perhaps, I have to scrape away a layer of gunk to put my mind where I want it to be, but the work is necessary in order to have perspective and meet the opportunities of the day with open arms. I’m not going to lie about it and say, it is oh so easy I just have to sing a little song and I’m right back where I belong. No. It is a conscious effort that I choose to make not only for myself but for everyone around me.

I’m not lying about how hard it is to find the attitude of gratitude, and I’m not lying about things I'm actually grateful for today. To prance around as if this brain tumor is nothing; though, maybe in fits of denial I will go there sometimes; is a dishonor to myself and everyone who has reached out to support me through this rather tight, dark passage. So, while I spend hours in bed staring at the ceiling as it spins around above me, I am grateful to have voices sending prayers out into the ethers for me. It brings me to tears to think of it, and,with that support, I know I cannot fail to emerge from the other side of this tunnel somehow braver and stronger than when I went in.

I’m grateful for the messages of support, suggestions and curiosity that I receive, even if I cannot answer them very quickly. And, when I am tired of talking, writing, chatting about the situation, I am grateful that there is a power off, and a shutdown button on all communications. I’m grateful that I’m learning how to use those buttons. Blush. I’m grateful that the support I receive respects my boundaries and many limitations right now.

My gratitude to my husband for keeping down the drama is a bottomless well. He is my touchstone, the go-to person when I feel it is all too much. He seems to love me even with all the trouble I cause, and I really do cause a raucus, and he proclaims me beautiful when my face is swollen from allergic reactions. He remembers to keep the laundry cycling through, and he’s even learning to cook. He is rising to the challenge of this time in our lives. What woman would not be grateful for that kind of love?

I have children who cleaned our home on their Saturday, without complaint. (Yes. There are children like that in this world.) They read to me when I was in bed, feverish and in pain, and combed my hair and held my hand.  If this isn’t touching to you, I don’t know what to tell you. Of course, they are children and they have their wants and needs, but it does occur to them to set those aside now and then and look at what is actually going on around them, and for this I’m grateful.

I have parents who would like to lean in and fuss over me, and yet they know that I’m not that kind of gal. They respect my space and let me ask them for assistance when I need it. My mom is giving up her beautiful Santa Fe for a week to come and drive me around (since I can’t take medication for anti-convulsion, I can’t drive, in case, just in case…) and sort my laundry. And, tomorrow is her 70-something birthday and she’s willing to hang out with a space cadet who may or may not muster making a cake for her. My step-mom sends up little snacks, takes my kids out of this sick space for afternoons and sleepovers. My dad actually left his lazy-boy and has driven (which he does not like to do ) up to my home several times to check in, and let me tell you it is a surprise always, and he’s smart enough to stay only 15 minutes even though the drive takes him an hour.

I am grateful for my writing because, though I haven't accomplished much with it in the world out there, it has been my most faithful friend, listened to me without judgment and allowed me to work out on the page what to do in every situation of my life. I could not ask for anything better from it, as there are definitely times that I've droned on and on about the same thing and yet finally a breakthrough happens that changes the course of my life. I am deeply grateful to be able to share a fraction of my writing with anyone who has the patience to read it.

So, these are my true gratitude attitudes for this Thanksgiving weekend. They are not grand in the scheme of all possibility, but they are sweet and poignant and meaningful at a time in my life when I need quiet more than parades.  I look forward to getting through this and looking back grateful that I knew my gifts well enough to put sign posts on them. I’m very blessed. May you take a moment to find what matters to you, that which gives your lives a little more ease and mark them with your own kind of sign post.

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