Here we are again friends, early in the morning on a holiday in the dark whisper of dawn, the world tiptoe on the precipice of family joy. I have my cup of coffee with it's delightful mint chocolate creamer, a treat for me in my solitude, the house filling with amazing scents that harken back to times before my conscious mind can construct a solid memory.
This has been a year of blessing for me. I find this interesting to muse upon, as we had a difficult year, yet somehow come out of it with so many dreams coming true that it takes my breath away. I cannot imagine what I have ever done to deserve to be this happy, and perhaps the crux of the matter lies in the contrast of the incredibly hard five, six years before Joe and I moved in together. Regardless, my ability to be thankful this year feels downright celebratory. Here is my list for 2009:
As always, my foremost gratitude in life is for the presence of my family and my friends.
Joe, you remain a powerful force for good in my life. There are no words to describe the serenity that comes from sharing life with someone who not only cares for you, but allows you to care for them. Your ability to let me care for you, our home and our relationship by the definitions we have created together fulfills me on a soulful level, down to the marrow of my spirit. I am teafully thankful to have been found by you, for the steadfastness of your faith in me even when I have lacked faith in myself. Thank you for being there this year to celebrate the triumphs. We bought near to our dream house, survived our first major lifestyle crisis as the economy fell down around our ears and kept the faith as we moved forward together. And the day when that letter came, you took out a bottle of expensive wine, placed it on the counter and told me either way, it was coming open regardless of what the envelope would reveal; that the triumph was in reaching that point at all given the years and years in which I doubted my abilities and suffered within my doubt and my fear. And when the letter did come open and I trembled in the sweetness of success, you alone were there to witness my joy. You have seen the lowest point of my life as I lay on the floor and wept the loss of my child; you have seen the highest point when I achieved the right to pursue my heart's dream in his memory. Thank you for bearing witness to my life. I can only hope to love you with the same loyalty and constancy as you have done for me. I do not know how I came to deserve you, but you are a gift to me and I am so very grateful for you, for all you provide, certainly materially, but even moreso, emotionally. You are incredible and I see it, every day.
Nick, Alex, you remain the lights of my life. Every year you move closer to manhood and every year I grow more in awe of who you are becoming. The days when you discuss your tastes, desires, concerns and viewpoints with me leave me misty with pride and the ones in which you ask of me the hard questions of life with faith and hope that I may have answers for you leave me humbled. There is no blessing in life like that of having children, of knowing parts of you will exist in another facet, another world, the ones which you create for yourselves, and it is my incredible privilege to be your mother. Thank you to you for sharing yourselves with me, for your incredible lack of rudeness, angst and for always treating me with such respect. I know it is not the popular way to be and I recognize it is something within you yourselves that I cannot touch that has made you that way. I thank God for you every day of my life and I look forward with hope to the future you are creating.
Stewart, you continue to be a wonderful friend and partner in parenting. I cannot imagine our family without you and though Joe and I marry this year, I am so thankful that I do not have to choose. Thank you for all the years of your loyal friendship, your faith in me, your faith in yourself and your openness to our atraditional family life. You are a wonderful person and I love you.
Mom, you remain a powerful force within my heart that grows stronger with every passing year. The softer sides of me that I learn to treasure more as time goes by, my ability to evaluate what is truly important in life and my strength of spirit without a doubt has come directly from you. I love your sense of fun, the value you place in tradition and family, the light of your smile and your endless compassion and sympathy when the need for it takes over me. You are always on my side; there is no substitute for you, no comparing the knowledge that from the first breath I took, there is someone on this earth who loved me as you do. Caring for you during your surgery was a privilege for me and the faith and trust you showed me gave so much back to me; the dignity and determination with which you met the challenge stirred me with pride. We only ever get one mother; I am so, so glad you are mine. Thank you for being proud of me, for loving me and for all the times we have played and shopped and talked together. I love you.
Heather, I know we hardly ever get to spend time together these days, yet we have transitioned nicely to email penpals for now and use the neenernet to keep up. I am grateful that you make the effort, for the ways you let me see what is going on in your world and for your constant, pragmatic view of the world and of me. You are one of my biggest fans. That someone like you cares for someone like me is a blessing and I am thankful for your friendship, for our laughter, for the easy and uncomplicated affection we share.
To Joe's children and their spouses, I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you have let me into your hearts. You are a part of his past that I can only know by knowing you. Thank you for letting me know you; you held his love long before I, and I am grateful for the easy friendships that are developing between us. You enrich my life with your personalities, your energy, your youth and your optimism. Thank you for letting me into your worlds and for coming into mine. I am blessed. To Mary Ann, Joe's sister, thank you for your constant affection and easy humor. I have loved the gradual unfolding of our relationship over the years, seeded first in the tragedy of Joseph's illness and blossoming now in the sweetness that simply is life. You are deep in my heart.
My attention this year is drawn to gratitude not just for people, but for institutions. I am thankful for my job; getting laid off at Cooper Clinic was devastating, but if ever there was a way to do it "right", Cooper Clinic did that. It is something to be grateful for. I am thankful to have found another so quickly after that event and for the flexibility of my new position. I am grateful they wish to keep me on part time when I start nursing school.
I am grateful for my education, for whatever it is inside me that made me able to return to school, make the grades I have and to earn my spot in my first choice of nursing schools. I am grateful for what this goal has done for my grief process, giving it an air of hope and optimism while still honoring the depth of my loss. It has helped immensely with the sense of conflict that comes with learning to live again when one's child has passed on. I am grateful to be happy and grateful to be okay with being happy. And even moreso, I am thankful that I want to be happy, that the pursuit of it exists within me still.
I am thankful for prosperity, for peace, for our beautiful home and for the self knowledge that enables me to pursue those things which make me happiest in life. I am thankful that I recognize the value of my friends, my children, my soon to be spouse. I think self knowledge and awareness is a gift that is usually hard come upon. If I had to go through that fire, I am grateful for the treasure it yielded to me.
Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone. May you have a day aware of your blessings, down to your soul.