I’m restless and so I walk the dog. We sprint some blocks, jog others. I walk back in, shake off my coat, and hang it up. I sit down. I stand back up, and pace in a circle. My brow is furrowed, and so I notice that and lie down to breathe. I stretch.
My surly mind keeps racing, and I breathe and let it run away. I’ll not catch it, and eventually it will simply tire. This is a battle I will win over time, but right now the questions are swirling. Breathe. Listen. Wait. Persist.
How does one write about gratitude when such dissonance exists? We have more than ever, yet for some it’s never enough, and spun further–I am surrounded by people who have nothing. They are joined, two sides of the same coin, unable to feel the fullness of this life.
Yet I, in the middle, don’t even know where to start. What grain of sand do I pluck from the beach, where so much shimmers? How does one write about something akin to oxygen? Here, in my heart, gratitude is not a diligent practice cultivated to feed me happier days–it is the soil in which I’m sane. I know not how to deconstruct it.
In this short life, I have been definitively blessed, a thousandfold. Stories, too many, are tucked in the safest memories. I feel a blur of faces and names, places and the breathtaking beauty of the everyday sky, which I study anew again, and again and again.
The moments and tactile bits stir me, like the weight of my good dog’s head in my two cupped hands, for the very last time. How I secretly thank my husband all the time for asking “Are you sure you’re ready?”, because it gave me pause, and during that pause my mind traced every single nuance of his sweet face, twice more, before I said, “OK,” and they took him for cremation. I hold that imprint softly, steady.
I thank every patient I cared for, who allowed me to sit with them, through unimaginably painful circumstances. I hold a baby, right in the smell of lavender, because the first time I encountered it out of context, it was the middle of the night, in the hallway of the pediatric oncology unit outside his room. I am grateful for that grave, precious new context.
In those halls, I learned how to live right–laughing so hard it hurt, and every now and then, the tears of those laughs overflowing into sobs. I learned stillness, and listening, and too many unfair truths, all in my early twenties.
It doesn’t stop there. My gratitude rolls down other tricky hallways, and into the darkness, where it bumps up against all the people who carry the weight of the world on their incomprehensively fatigued shoulders, every minute of every day–day in and day out. I cherish you, and I hold you up, and I thank you for letting me sit with you, too.
I thank all the weary people who trusted there are options, and fought, and did not give in to the whisper call for suicide. Every single loss counts, and serves to deepen the trench for all wearing the same struggle. Thank you, for continuing to push against an early good night, for we see the light you are looking for. It is right here, and we are here, and there are a number of ways to lighten the load; to be well.
My heart catches, and tears push at my eyes, for I am called to consider all the teachers who have received me, seen me, and elevated me. I can write these words, and breathe deeply, and serve others, because I was taught. I can wrap my mind around complex concepts, for you helped me to stretch my mind around it all–abstract or concrete.
It’s late, and this is a deep and reverent well. Tonight, I will settle, and sleep. Tomorrow, bits will continue to roll, even tumble free, until the flow dwindles naturally. I will look, as always, to the sky, and wear a light heart in celebratory remembrance of too much that has come to pass.