This time of year people are always explaining what they are thankful for. They announce it over facebook or other social media, they make it a daily activity at school or even the office. I always think that this is a wonderful tradition that reminds people how lucky they are and helps them realize what is really important. This year however I’ve developed a slightly different opinion on this tradition. Thanksgiving means a lot to people and it can also mean a lot of different things to those people. For instance for my family it is a time that we get our family together in one place with no scheduling nightmares and no one rushing off to work, school, etc. However, it is also the day that my Aunt Helene (my mothers sister) passed away after a long battle with leukemia.
I will never forget that day, we were at my grandparents house (dad’s parents) when the phone rang and we got the news. It was a hard day for all of us, especially my mom of course. Now every year we confront this day trying to make sure we use it to celebrate our lives but there is always the awareness that this day was also Helene’s final goodbye. I have had people express how sorry they are that this day that is supposed to be about thanks and joy has been turned into a reminder of losing a loved one. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and while I am so sorry and sad to have lost her I am not sorry that it was on Thanksgiving day. The truth is I am thankful. I am thankful that through all her fighting she was never alone. I am thankful that she was able to be with us as long as she was, that she got to see her kids go through much of life’s trials (though not all) before she had to leave. I am thankful that she had a chance to say goodbye to all the people that she loved.
I don’t mean to be morbid, but through all the years since she has been gone I have wondered why that date doesn’t evoke a more emotional and sad response. After the past year and all of the things that I have gone through, how sick I was and how scary that experience was has given me perspective. I don’t want to feel bad about saying goodbye. I want to feel glad that she was able to tell the people she loved what she needed to and that when the cancer took everything that made her who she was she was able to go. I am thankful. Thankful that every year on Thanksgiving I get to look back at the good fight she fought and the impact she was able to have on people. She taught us a lot, how to be strong and how to love no matter what stands in our way.
So this year I am thankful for perspective, for life and love. I am thankful that I have a family that stands by me even if they think I am making the wrong choice. I am thankful for friends (even when they get lost within themselves) and thankful for the time to make new ones. I am thankful for the sun, the moon, the stars and all the things I don’t understand about the universe. I am thankful that I am still here because I haven’t finished learning things. I am thankful a dog that understands me and what I need better than even I do. I am thankful for generosity, humility, honor, and forgiveness. I am thankful for respect, education, communication, and happiness. I am thankful for everything that makes my life what it is and what it can be. Dare I say that I am even thankful for diabetes?
In some strange way I think I am. Being diagnosed with this disease and knowing that even with PERFECT control and care my life will certainly be shortened (an average of 10-13 years I’ve read) has made me realize that I need to just live my life. It has taught me that everyday should start and end with me sharing my love and respect with those who mean the most to me. I has taught me that being thankful can mean a lot of things and that no matter how limited I may be, I’m here and I’m still fighting. So don’t forget to look around and remember what you would be missing if it was all over tomorrow and don’t forget to make sure that everyone in your life knows how you feel!
Happy Thanksgiving, eat lots and don’t forget to Bolas! 🙂