Tag Archives: Gratitude
This blog post is part 1 of a 4 part series. I thought this series may be helpful to anyone who is facing the death of a loved one or knows anyone that has passed away. At times you may find it difficult to read, yet in the end I hope you can see the inspiration and gratitude I found in this 24 hour period.
It was about 10pm, I had gone upstairs to get ready for bed. Ian was sleeping peacefully as I walked by the bed to go to the bathroom. I turned the water on and let it run to get hot. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I got through another day. I wasn’t surprised by what I saw, dark circles under my eyes, gaunt cheeks, pasty white skin and haunted eyes. I gazed at the reflection and noticed that the waist of my pants was bunched up where the leather belt had drawn the belt loops close together so my jeans didn’t fall down. I had lost about 15 pounds since we had arrived home three months ago. Given the fact that I didn’t have any weight to lose on my 5’6” frame I looked on the verge of anorexia. Food had lost its taste and I had more important things to take care of each day. My dirty blond, shoulder length hair needed highlighting, my dark roots were beginning to show more than I liked, but leaving the house for a 2 hour event wasn’t going to happen. As I stared into the mirror, I lost myself. I had crawled into the mirror and burrowed into the blue hollows of my eyes. I stared and stared back. I didn’t recognize myself and yet I knew who I was and what I had to do – I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to run and never come back, but I knew who I was and I knew that I was in this for the long haul, no matter what that meant. Till death do us part.
I brushed my teeth feeling the bristles on my gums thinking of what was to come. As I washed my face, the hot water felt good and bad at the same time. Good because it made me feel something, bad because it felt like a flame licking my face. Such routine in such chaos. I went to the closet and pulled on a t-shirt and some flannel pajama bottoms. After getting my night clothes on I turned to walk back into the bedroom. The bedside lamp on Ian’s side was on and the rest of the room was dim. The two windows on either side of the king sized bed were closed and the curtains were drawn. I couldn’t believe that our bedroom had been turned into a hospital room in the last few hours. There was the boxed air mattress on one side of the bed, which I would have to figure out how to use and place on Ian’s side of the bed in the morning. Also there was the freshly delivered plastic covered shower chair and walker which were pushed into the corner by the television. A bedside commode was also brought over, which I was thankful for because I didn’t think Ian would be able to ever walk to the bathroom again. The oxygen compressor was on and making a loud whirring noise. Ian didn’t seem to be bothered by the noise, and I was so relieved that he was getting the fresh clean oxygen that he needed. I walked to his bedside. I had showered him earlier in the day, which I never thought I would be able to do. The thought of it felt so demeaning for both Ian and me and yet when I took him into the shower and washed his shrunken 125 pound body, the reality of it became beautiful and lovely. He was a man returned to a child. He sat innocently, depending on me to clean his body. He had been a robust 230 pound man 7 years earlier, before being diagnosed with Lymphoma.
As my eyes wondered over the king sized bed with the cream and tan satin duvet cover, which we had purchased almost two years prior for our ten year anniversary, I caught sight of the new wedding band on Ian’s finger that I had given him a week ago as a surprise Valentine’s Day gift. His fingers had gotten so small due to his continued weight loss that his original wedding band was swimming on his ring finger and he finally had to put it in a safe place so it wouldn’t be lost. He had mentioned once or twice over the years that he had wished he had gotten a yellow and white gold band, as it would have been more versatile. I decided that I would get him a yellow gold and platinum band, one that would really last. It seemed extravagant, as it cost over $1,000 and yet when I handed him the gift and he fumbled to open the ribbon wrapped package and saw what lay within, the tears in his eyes made every penny worth the expense. He was so grateful to be able to show his love for me by wearing his new ring.
I continued to follow my gaze up to Ian’s sunken face. He looked serene and ravaged at the same time. He was in no pain while sleeping which was a blessing. Yet his face showed the stress and stain of fighting this terrible disease. The scar on his neck seemed to grow as his body shrunk. It was the original sight of the lymphoma, a swollen lymph gland which after removal never healed properly and left an angry scar. He had undergone 3 bone marrow transplants, one a year after his initial diagnosis, which was in 1997, and two more during our 7 month stay in Seattle, where we lived with our two children in a hotel for over seven months so that Ian could get the best cancer treatment in the country. He had also undergone hundreds of countless horrific experiences trying to fight his way out of this terrible type of hell. His cheeks were sunken, his brown hair a wisp of its former self, his skin sallow and hanging. His mouth had become distorted; his teeth seemed disproportionally too big for his small face. It was almost as if his skull was peering out from beneath his skin. At the time all of these changes had happened so gradually that it didn’t seem so striking. I could really only tell when we went out in public and saw the way people would stare at us, then reality was brought home to me – that things weren’t right. I bent over and kissed Ian’s forehead, “Goodnight my love, sleep well.”
I’ve got another happy living story. I just told you about how I met my husband and how filled with gratitude I am to have him in my life. After we were married, David moved into the house that Ian and I had been living in, and in fact where Ian had died. In retrospect this must have been quite difficult for David, and I give him great credit for not asking us to move.
The kids were now twelve and ten and our house didn’t have a basement or any real place for them to just “hang out.” We also had three cars, as Ian had a convertible BMW which I traded in for an awesome MINI convertible, and of course I still had my car and David had his. We really needed a three car garage. Ultimately we decided to add on to our house by building a third garage and adding a bonus room above the entire garage area. We also put together a long list of other upgrades we wanted to have within the house: a wine fridge, an extra refrigerator in the garage, an upgrade to our master shower that included a ledge for me to prop my leg while shaving and gorgeous thick glass walls, and a new kitchen with granite counter tops – someday. No problem, right? Wrong!
We were told by our architect that it would take about 4 to 6 weeks to get the variance approval that we needed in order to start our building project. Apparently, we needed to build eighteen inches over our set back line on the property, and this needed town approval. We were ready to go. . . First the town forgot to put a notice in the paper about our project which added another 4 weeks. Then our architect filed the wrong papers – 6 more weeks. Then we had the hearing, and the committee agreed that they would have to view the site. Another hearing would be set in 4 weeks during which time the board members would all drive to our house to view the proposed variance. But wait! It was now vacation time, so the next hearing wouldnot be set for 8 weeks. After all of this waiting, we thought we were close. Oops! One of the committee members couldn’t remember what our property looked like; yes, he had viewed it along with other committe members, but he couldn’t get a clear picture in his head, and he wanted to postpone the vote until the next meeting. This went on for 9 months!
During our wait and even a year or so earlier, I often drove by a beautiful house on a lake. This home was across the street from the middle and high schools, so I saw it regularly when I dropped my daughter off at the middle school. I had watched as they tore down a small, nondescript cape and re-built the home into the most amazing, breath taking, glass covered, chalet. I even called my realtor and asked if the home owners were going to sell the house or if it was just for them. She said, “Just for them.”
One day as I was driving by, I noticed that the glass house was for sale. I again called my realtor, without any real intention of buying the house, but just to inquire about the cost and to ask why they were selling. The owners were being transferred to Texas. they were not happy about leaving, but they had to go in order to keep getting a paycheck. The price? Way more than was affordable for us. Oh well . . .
After the 9 month variance struggle, we finally received approval. It was time to move ahead with our plans. That same week, I drove by the lake house again on my way to school, and I noticed that the for sale sign in front of the house had changed company names. Curious, I gave my good friend,the realtor another call. The owner’s had tried to sell the house for six months without success, so they took a buyout from their company. Now the lake house was being sold by the relocation company, and they had drastically dropped the price in order to sell it fast.
I called my husband, and we all met at the lake house. David and I walked into the front room and without looking at the rest of the place I knew, then and there, that we would be living there very soon. Not only did this house have the three car garage, but it also had the extra refrigerator that we wanted. It had a walk out basement with a TV room, and a guest room with its own bathroom. The main floor had a brand new kitchen with granite counter tops and a huge wine fridge. The master bathroom had a beautifully tiled, tumbled-marble shower with a ledge for me to prop my leg while shaving, and the shower even had the thick glass walls we wanted! This is all in addition to the house having a killer view of the lake! And it was within walking distance to both of the schools our childen would be attending!
I feel so blessed, and I feel such gratitude for all of the events, especially the frustrating nine months of waiting for variance hearings because we would not be in the house that I love without going through those bumps in the road.
Yesterday’s blog was a crash course in happiness. After I posted and reflected about what I had written I realized that another awesome element to incorporate into your daily life is gratitude. Happiness is achieved at a much faster rate by marinating your life with gratitude.
Gratitude – grat·i·tude (noun); meaning: thanks
It’s really that simple. The more thankful you are, the more wonderful your life becomes. Even bad things you can be thankful for. There have been many times that I get stuck in traffic and I start to get frustrated and annoyed – only to discover up ahead is a terrible car accident. It’s possible that if I had been traveling faster I could have been in that horrible crash. Yikes!!! Think about delays as a way to catch your breath and be thankful that nothing worse has happened.
I truly believe that things happen for a reason. If you are miserable in life, I encourage you to look closely at how you feel about your situation. If you wake up every morning and dread going to work, do you think once you arrive you’re going to have a wonderful day at work? How could you? Now, if you wake up and think to yourself, “Wow, I’m so grateful to have a job. Even though this is not exactly where I want to be right now – it’s where I am. I am going to do the best I can do today and be thankful I have a job.” My prediction is that you would have a much better experience on that day.
My gratitude practice is to think about my day as I’m falling asleep. As I’m drifting off to la la land I try to recall all of the events that occurred throughout my day and give thanks. It’s a wonderful way to end my day and helps me to wake up with a positive attitude. Once my eyes open in the morning, I give thanks for another day of grateful possibilities. Give it a try – I guarantee it will improve your life, and increase your happiness level exponentially! – Lisa
p.s I’m so grateful for such gorgeous flowers in my garden – I took these photos this morning – ahhhh!