Now that we are all slowly waking up from our turkey comas, I thought I’d make a feeble attempt at profound thought. Here we go:
Yesterday as I drove home with a sleeping husband and fussy baby, I got the opportunity to think. I like to drive. I prefer to drive alone, as I did for so many years before I got married, but I’ll take whatever I can get at this point. Driving for me was always somewhat therapeutic. I would drive around when I was angry, I would drive when I was sad, and I would drive around on those perfect sunny summer days with bubble gum pop blaring over the stereo. Some of my best ideas and quiet moments have happened while I was in the car. While I am a fairly good defensive driver, I also get in “the zone” and enter into a world that is only accessed by the hypnotic passing of those broken yellow lines. These are my moments of self-reflection. These are my moments to cry, without shame, to the powerful lyrics of some obscure artist that I’ve popped into the player. These are moments meant just for me. When I have no technological distractions and no other looming responsibilities (well, I have my baby now, but before he arrived this was my mindset…). The car was my time to really listen to me. Or listen to God. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I have religious beliefs since my previous posts are riddled with foul language, but this time of year makes me feel like sharing something that will likely get me harshly judged. Bring it on! We are all imperfect anyway, even the best of us 😉
But those moments in the car, they were treasured. Sometimes they were the only time I could find inspiration. Sometimes those quiet moments revealed huge truths to me. I miss those moments so when I had the opportunity to dwell in one, I did. There was a random 10 minutes where both my boys were asleep and it was heavenly. And it got me thinking about Thanksgiving. I find that there is something very convicting about this holiday. It’s one day where we are called to “give thanks” for our blessings and that makes me sad because it is only one day. One day where we consciously take time out of our menial lives to acknowledge that we might have something to be grateful for. No matter how bad things are for you, if you’re reading this, someone else has it worse. Someone else has no internet. Someone else has no heat. And someone else has no home.
One year ago, my sister lost her beloved husband, unexpectedly, at the age of 40. One week after I returned home from the funeral, I became pregnant. A true blessing in the midst of extreme tragedy. Last Thanksgiving we were all still in shock that this seemingly healthy man died of a heart attack. This year my sweet sisters wounds are as raw as ever. He is still gone. The holidays are still lonely. She still loves and misses him. This holiday season is a reminder that he is no longer here. And that hurts. It’s hard for her to be thankful. But I can be thankful, and that makes me feel guilty. Thinking about her unimaginable loss makes me thankful that my husband is asleep in the seat next to me. It makes me thankful that, even if he died unexpectedly, I would have a small piece of him left that is bundled up and snoring behind him. And that realization makes me sad and happy and thankful and remorseful all at the same time. But most of all it makes me feel ashamed that I don’t realize, and seriously count, my blessings on a daily basis. I get over-tired because Little Bear decided to wake up crying every hour and then decided to be ready for the day a 4:30 AM. And this over-tiredness makes me cranky, rude, shutdown, and frustrated. Not only at the love of my life but also at the little bundle of innocence that he helped create. I allow this lack of sleep to mar my day and I use it as an excuse to be a bitch to anyone who dares to glance in my direction or cry in my face. This is not a life I want to live. This is a life of wasted opportunity, wasted time. And we all have limited time here, whether it’s 40 years or 80 years, that’s limited. And I want to be thankful everyday for what I have. And you can be thankful too.
I had a conversation with my dad on Wednesday. He’s had an…interesting life. Due to a life story that isn’t mine to tell, he is 60 years old and lives with his mother. He works a physically demanding, unappreciated job in the construction industry that could, at any moment, hurt his body and make him unemployed. That is his current worry. That his hernia will rupture and he will lose his one source of income that was so hard to come by. He’s been living with his mother for 7 years now, ever since he lost his steady, decent paying job that he had held for 14 years before. And he is sad about his life, which is natural for someone born into privilege. It isn’t what he had imagined. He didn’t think he would have three divorces under his belt and not have a home of his own at this age. He would have thought he would have a desk job that didn’t make him work outside in the cold and the rain when his knees ache and his back hurts. Life throws us curve balls. I didn’t think I would be living in the middle of nowhere with a baby and no career in sight, but here I am with a useless diploma hanging on the wall of my neglected music room. But I have something to be thankful for. Actually, I have loads of things to be thankful for if I would just take the time to open my eyes and see my blessings. My dad asked for prayers over the next year. He would like a different job opportunity. One that doesn’t threaten to send him to the unemployment office at the first wrong step and one that won’t make him count his pennies. I said I would pray for him, of course, but while he was getting a little lost in self-pity and recounting the things in his garage apartment, I reminded him that some people don’t even have that heater he was listing off. And since it’s been dipping into the 20’s at night, that is a big thing to be thankful for. And he may live in a shoddily converted garage but at least there’s real insulation and a roof over his head. He has his barest needs met: food, clothes, shelter. Not everyone has those simplest of necessities. And I have even more.
What do you have? Chances are, even if your marriage is on the rocks, even if you’re struggling with infertility, even if you’re pinching pennies and wondering where Decembers mortgage payment is going to come from, I bet you have something to be thankful for. Do you have a husband who loves you? Do you have a friend who will hold you while you cry? Do you have a pet that looks forward to your company everyday? Do you have a job? Do you have your health? Even in those moments when it seems like you have nothing, you have something. You are still here. Be thankful. Everyday that you have breath, be thankful.