This year more than any other continually challenged me to remember all that I have. On this day of giving thanks, I share the following entries from my mental gratitude journal.
Friends who feel like family. Near and far, I love you.
Everyone who helped (whether I asked for it or not) get me through two bad and unlucky injuries; three months in a wheelchair would have been horribly lonely not to mention on the edge of impossible without you.
Friends and family who encourage my writing, get my jokes, and listen patiently when I say,“last night, I had this dream..”
Hugs from my boys, growing into curious, caring, open-minded young men who still like to spend time together —and often with me too. (Though the younger one is pushing it with his insistence that the world looked like a black and white film way back when I was born.)
The honor of witnessing the union of Rachel and Sandra and seeing the looks on their kids faces as the deal was sealed.
My Latvian grandparents —dead more than 20 years— who rejected fascism and escaped tyranny en route to gaining passage to this great nation. (I’ve been wearing my grandmother’s ring as a reminder.)
Shelter. Creativity. Resources. Health insurance. Good skin. Wine. Fall foliage. Books. Yoga. Cats.
And while I’m at it, freedom of the press. Freedom of speech. Freedom to make my own health decision. The right to vote. A passport that can get me nearly everywhere.
The list goes on, but my pie needs to come out of the oven.
First, let me start off my expressing my sincerest apologies for years and years (decades, if I’m being frank) of completely taking you for granted. “My feet hurt,” I may have complained now and then, but did I give you the respect you deserve? No. I cursed nicks in the shower over your difficult-to-shave bony protuberances that seemed to bleed forever. But did I ever consider what you, conduit to my feet, endured physically and emotionally?
Hindsight is 20/20. Now I see how cruelly I abused you with each pair of sky high heels, each precarious walk on an uneven sidewalk, each high intensity exercise I engaged in. And all without the smallest of thanks.
(Sorry and thank you for heavy ankle weights, four-inch heels, jumping jacks, marathons, boots that blistered, dull razors, careless bumps, and all other infractions.)
Like much in life, we don’t know how good we have something until we don’t have it anymore. It may seem shitty of me to find appreciation for you now that I can’t use you, but I offer my gratitude regardless. I love you, who will forever bear the screws and scars of my slip. I love you, even as you throb and swell and press against the tight boundaries of my cast. (I hope that means you’re healing.) And I promise to take better care of you when you are freed from plaster confinement.
A token of my affection: I’ve already given away two pairs of boots that must have felt like torture chambers to you.
As we move forward together, I want to conclude by letting you know how much I love standing on two feet and appreciate the role you play in my bipedalism.
Fourteen years ago, I awoke to a bright blue sky and the hint of crisp fall temperatures. And contractions. Ten-to-twelve minutes apart.
“What do you want to do?” my husband asked when he saw me with the stopwatch.
“D’uh, go to work. If I sit around all day timing contractions, this baby will never be born.” (After all, this was years before the Red Sox would win their first World Series of my lifetime, which I know only makes sense to New Englanders.)
We got into the car for the commute to Capitol Hill. Our drive took us by the Pentagon. Not that I noticed. I usually took a pregnancy-induced early morning power nap as we sat in bumper-to-bumper. On September 11th, I woke up from my car slumber, per usual, just as we exited the Third Street Tunnel. I got door-to-door service, dropped off directly in front of the Senate office building where I worked.
By the time I reached my desk, an infamous day was in the making.
I don’t know why my unborn baby, his father and I were chosen to live on 9-11 when so many others perished. But I do know I’m grateful. Grateful to those who prevented the fourth plane from flying into the Capitol. Grateful for the heroes who emerged in our nation’s time of need. Grateful my son waited four days to enter this unpredictable world.
This morning, the sky is bright and the air cool. The world is crazy but heroes still exist. And that baby is on the cusp of his fourteenth birthday.