Isn’t it suiting that “Be Ye Thankful” November follows “The Longest October on Record”? So, rather than focus on the sadness, the sleep-deprivation, and the stress of October, I am setting my priorities on giving thanks. After all, studies show that giving thanks allows you to feel more autononmous in your life, improves your health, bolsters your self-esteem (cause you are focusing on the right stuff), and, as I can attest to, helps you cope better with trauma and stress.
For the next four weeks, I am counting my blessings. Periodically, I do this here anyway, but it feels both especially necessary and therapeutic to do it here now. I hope you’ll join in by sharing what you’ve been grateful for in that week when each weekly post pops up. With all of our collective count your blessings energy, we should all go into the holidays with a whole lot of warm and fuziness.
In Give Thanks Edition # 1, I am giving thanks…
1. For my dad’s nurses and therapists who have all been really incredible and especially Jeff, the nurse for his first stint in ICU who got called in on Day 1 and stayed with us for five days, even though they are only supposed to work 3 (12 hour) shifts in a week. Jeff was so kind that every time he spoke to me for the first two days, I wept. Seriously, I wept because of his kindness, generosity, and his great compassion. Just the way he treated us was enough to undo me. And he also taught us a very important lesson in the healthcare world: the patient’s family deserves information.
2. For the time spent with my mom and dad. As an adult, you rarely get that much uninterrupted, unplanned time with your parents. And I really dig my parents so it was touching to get my mom to and from the hospital each day and then just to sit with her. We had some hysterical conversations (there was an especially funny moment about tattoos and who among us children (and partners) has one. Not I!) and some teary conversations and some stressful conversations, but, through it all, we had each other. It was also nice to spend time with my dad supporting him through setbacks that none of us were expecting but were navigable with compassion, communication with caregivers, and commitment. My dad, even in his 70s and even frail like I’ve never seen him (some of you know that my dad is a cancer patient- I say patient instead of survivor because his type of cancer is largely uncurable; we track time by whether or not it is active in his body. All of us, my dad included, found this experience far more difficult than the considerable time he has spent in active cancer treatment), was still so essentially himself and that was really a beautiful and inspiring thing.
3. For who my siblings are as adults. My sister and I talk everyday- long distance- and so, we are incredibly close, but we rarely have to be sisters at home together, if that makes sense. My brother and I talk largely about athletics and logistics- who is doing what for Thanksgiving, whether or not I can make it to a game he’s coaching, whether or not he can make it to a family birthday party. But we all had to come together, use our skills, forgive each other’s weaknesses, and put together a plan while giving each other, our partners, and our parents support. We worked well together and continue to do so and I marvel at who we’ve all become as adults.
4. For BF. Bf is an incredibly capable parent and far more able to fly solo for days at a time than I think I am. His effortlessness with Happy and his ability to roll with each setback with grace are just a couple of his fine qualities. As my dad would say, he’s a good egg.
5. Our community. In South Carolina, we had so much support from day one. One of my closest friends from childhood had her parents deliver food to us at the hospital (such a thoughtful gift– we ate from that basket for three days!), another childhood bestie arrived on Saturday from Atlanta, my parents friends from all walks of life convened around us in the waiting room, my sister’s in laws in South Carolina kept our children for us for the weekend so we could be at the hospital non-stop. Back home (well, home for me in NC), we had all sorts of help when I was in and out of town- from BF’s parents to people we don’t know all that well dropping off dinner on my sole night back in town over a long stretch. We also had a slew of people offer us there prayers, good thoughts, ears, and arms for hugging. What a gift.
So, that’s my first edition of Give Thanks. What’s on your list for last week and this past weekend? Next week, I’ll likely go lighter and more immediate but I didn’t want to let the moment pass and not thank the good folks who made October more bearable and hopeful.