Friday, August 1, 2014

Stubborn Gratitude

This summer has been challenging, but I'm still sitting stubbornly on a pile of gratitude.

I hurt my back shortly after the boys finished the school year. There was a trip to the emergency room & follow-up appointments with my doctor. Standing... a lot of standing. Any chance I got... at home, at work, anywhere. I stood in the E.R. for 2 hours because the act of sitting in one place was so painful. This has been a bit of a theme in my life lately, this notion that sitting still can be painful. Sometimes it is literal & sometimes it is figurative, but either way, it hurts.

The back injury reminded me of a much more serious back injury Pop sustained in his 30's... an injury that caused him to walk with a cane for the rest of his short life. The image of him without the need for that cane hovers just on the edge of my memory, although I do remember him carving the stick he found in the woods. It is beautiful and we still have it, all these years later. He crossed my mind each time I became frustrated because of the struggle I faced trying to do things that should have been easy. 

I am grateful for the compassion I found for him & his pain in the midst of my own.

I am grateful that my pain was not permanent. (There were 10 short minutes of yoga earlier this week. It wasn't much, but it was 10 minutes better than nothing.)

A few weeks later, while trying to step off the side of a boat onto a dock to tie it up, I slipped & found myself caught between the dock & a moving boat, my ribs being the first thing to make contact with the edge of the wood deck on the way down. Everyone on the boat said it was as if I just disappeared. It's strange how time can move so quickly & seem to stand still all at once. In the split second that it took me to know that I had to get out of the way of the boat, I found myself having fully formed memories of my cousin Chris, who lost what I am certain would have been a beautiful life in a boating accident when we were teenagers. I thought of the fact that Deb & the boys were on the boat & how fearful my mother is of deep water & I thought of all the time we spent on this very lake with Pop when I was a kid. All of these thoughts seemed to happen in the few seconds it took me to find myself on my back on the dock, squinting up at the sun & trying to look brave for my boys.

I am grateful for so many things with regard to the fall, mostly grateful for all of the things that didn't happen. And sometimes that is the best sort of gratitude.

A few weeks after that, we found ourselves in the Emergency Room with Jasper, who was dehydrated from a stomach virus. He is fine now, but it was the first time we have had to see one of the boys that sick & he was just pitiful. Both Finn & Silas had the stomach virus over the next few weeks, but they both recovered much more quickly than the little guy. Jasper wasn't himself for about a week & lost a little weight, although he doesn't really have anything to spare.

I am grateful that they have us to care for them- always, but especially when they are sick. It is still so shockingly obvious that their history of being left to fend for themselves is still a more prevalent memory than the number of times they have been cared for when ill... but based on the number of times I set the alarm to take temperatures in the middle of the night this summer, hopefully the good will outweigh the bad sooner rather than later.

So this summer has been challenging, in more ways than even those listed here- but I am  refusing to be anything but grateful... maybe even for my stubborn streak. 

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