One of my family’s annual Thanksgiving traditions is to state what we are thankful for that year. Historically, my (step)daughter has said her family or times she was able to make memories with certain people near and dear to her heart. My fiancé usually chimes in with some funny tidbit such as football or the rare times his daughter is quiet. I usually say I am thankful for the opportunities we have had as a family the last year.
This year was different. Cliché, I know, but so very true on a deeply personal level. This past year I watched a friend I have known since middle school get diagnosed with a brain tumor, undergo surgery to have it removed (thankfully, it was benign), and tough out physical and occupational therapy to once again function as an adult. This year, I watched my aunt barely sleep as she waited for pathology results to return on the tumor my cousin had removed from her neck (also benign). This year, I watched an old co-worker watch as her husband battled cancer, just to find out she had the same diagnosis a few months later.
This year I said goodbye to my uncle who passed suddenly after a catastrophic cancer diagnosis just a week earlier. This year I watched someone I went to high school with disappear, just to be found deceased a few weeks later. This year I watched yet another person I went to middle school with pass away unexpectedly, leaving behind a 3-year-old son.
This year I watched family members tear each other apart after a long-buried feud resurfaced. This year I watched my own relationship with my future mother-in-law deteriorate due to actions blinded by selfish ways. This year I watched my best friend’s sanity be shredded by a battle with post-partum depression.
This year was different. This year, for the first time in many, I was so very grateful for my own physical and mental health. This year, I was grateful that I wake up daily with only minor aches and pains, no broken bones, and no surgeries needed. This year, I was grateful that my fiancé and my (step)daughter are healthy, do not require daily medications, and are generally happy. This year, I was grateful for a roof over my head, grateful that I don’t wonder where my next meal will come from, and grateful to be surrounded by those I love and who love me.
This year, I am so very grateful.