So it was fun, rummaging through images that expressed Gratitude, and peeking through other people’s collections of quotes and insights. I copied and pasted quite a few, not sure which ones I would want to use here today.
As the morning progressed, plans changed, of course (see my blog on interruptions), and I ended up concocting a new healthy cookie recipe for my husband, who is type 2 diabetic and whose sugar has been out of whack lately, but who really enjoys having a wee bit of dessert. So I adapted an old favourite and substituted lots of healthy ingredients into it – whole wheat flour, dark chocolate chips (presuming that the experts are correct in promoting the health benefits of dark chocolate), wheat germ, oatmeal, unsweetened applesauce (which allowed me to cut the butter from 1 cup to 1/4 cup), and dates (he also has chronically low iron). So that took me awhile, but all the time I spent putting the cookies together, I was still thinking about my gratitude blog.
Then out of nowhere, literally out of NOWHERE, I started sobbing. Deep, gut-wrenching sobs that keeled me over in emotional agony. Without any warning whatsoever on this beautiful sunny morning jam-packed with gratitude, grief hit hard. I miss my family with every aching cell in my body. My Dad, Mom and youngest brother Gary all died within the past few years. I haven’t seen either of my other two brothers in a couple of years, or my 3 nieces. We used to be such a close-knit family, but when Gary died, we all shattered, individually and also as a family. We’re all still mending, and it still hurts to be together because there are so many empty chairs around the table. We know we should be focusing on the positive, but it’s still too difficult to ignore the obvious holes in our gatherings. So we email each other and some of us connect on Facebook. But it’s not like the family gatherings of old, with hugs and story-telling and laughter ringing around the room. The holes are still too gaping – and raw – even after all these years.
There in my kitchen, I had my little pity-party, then resolutely turned my focus back on the subject of Gratitude. Gratitude is the only way I’ve been able to survive and thrive beyond all the grief and sadness and rough (lonely) roads of the past few years. Focusing on “what is” and turning my mind around to see that “Gratitude really does turn what I have into enough” has been my full-time job. “What is here and now” has to be enough, because it’s all I have….longing for “what was” pushes me into dark places I don’t want to go anymore. Constantly chasing after “more” and “better” is fruitless, because until I truly believe that what I have here and now IS ENOUGH, nothing will EVER be enough. It’s all in the mindset. On a day-to-day basis, my attitude literally makes or breaks me. Gratitude is the road I’ve chosen.
I had my Dad for 45 years, my Mom for 47, and my brother for 42. I’m luckier than many others who have lost family members earlier in their lives, or didn’t even have a father or a mother or a brother. I’m very VERY grateful for the years and experiences that we DID have together. I don’t know if I’ll ever heal or evolve to the point where I can honestly say that it was enough…how can it ever feel like enough after death has severed – stolen – the dreams and horizons that we carried in our hearts for and with those loved ones?!
I still yearn for more time with all or any of them…but maybe, for now, I can at least make peace – and find some semblance of contentment – with half-and-half. With paradox. The constant paradox of knowing that more time with them would have been better, but also knowing that what time we did have was precious and wonderful and so I am grateful.
Yearning and gratitude. My constant paradox.