Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blessings

I am amazed at how easily we slip into the routine of life and begin to take our lives and the people around us for granted. It seems as though I get a lesson every so often to remind me to appreciate my life, my friends and my family.

The first time I really remember being aware of this was on our wedding day. I remember standing at the alter with Eric, looking out over the sea of faces and being absolutely awed that so many people cared enough about us to share in our joy. I felt so blessed.

I feel it on every holiday, but particularly on Thanksgiving. That is our huge family holiday - when between 50 and 60 of us gather in one house to give thanks. Yes, I have a huge extended family. I grew up thinking that all families were like ours, that everybody knew their cousins as well as they knew their siblings. I think the first time I realized it wasn't so was in college. I grew up in a small town, in a small (population) county, where most of the people I knew were surrounded by their extended family. Actually, both Eric and I were a little unusual, in that our extended families lived in other parts of Washington. (Yes, this is true too - I met Eric when I was 16 and he was 18, so he was part of my growing up). I have two brothers and two sisters, and my parents have been married for almost 51 years. To add to that, my parents have a group of friends, about 10 couples, that they have been friends with since before they were married. All of those friends are still on their first marriage, only one has passed away. Needless to say, I grew up with a lot of stability and support. My point is, that for a long time, I thought that is how everyone's childhood was. I took my life for granted.

When I had my babies, I was again reminded about how lucky I was. The outpouring of love and support when our boys were born was incredible. Then, when Web was a year old, he had to have closed heart surgery. Our families and friends were amazing. The support we received before the surgery, during the hospital stay and in the weeks to follow was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Again, I realized just how blessed we were.

But you know, life goes on and we forget. Various things happened over the years to remind me in little ways, mostly births and deaths, plus that annual Thanksgiving gathering. Then last summer it hit hard again. First we had a graduation party for our seven graduates, combined with my parent’s 50th Anniversary party. (In a one-year period, between my cousins and my siblings, seven out of eight of us had a baby). During this time, my beautiful cousin Donna was dying of breast cancer. She rallied for this big event - her youngest, Steven, was one of the seven graduates. It was a joyful day for us. Two months later, we gathered in the hospital. Everyone. Every day. For two weeks we held vigil for Donna. We came and went, but there was never less than twenty people in the waiting room. We talked, we held each other, we cried, we laughed. Donna's Mom, my Aunt Jean, died of breast cancer almost 15 years ago, making this exceptionally hard for my Mom and my Uncle Bud. Donna was only 49 the day she died. So, a short two months after our last gathering, we came together again to celebrate Donna’s life and mourn her passing. Once again, the blessings of an incredible family and wonderful friends was brought home to me.

That brings me to today. Somehow, I forgot. Maybe not forgot, but didn't consciously think about and appreciate my family and my friends. I went off for surgery without giving it much thought. These last few days I've been reminded again, in the most wonderful manner, of the gifts of family and friendship that I enjoy. I am amazed that so many people care, and go out of their way to show me that they care. I am very, very blessed and very, very thankful.

I have been wondering how I can keep these thoughts in the forefront of my mind. I read an article in Runners World by Kristin Armstrong – about praying each mile of a marathon for someone - and that gave me my answer. I am going to spend a mile of every run reminding myself of everything that I have to be grateful for, and giving thanks for my life, my health, my family and my friends.

10 comments:

Flo said...

Wow, you do have a pretty amazing life. That's a good idea though. We do tend to forget in the day to day living of life. We are fortunate in many, many ways and it's a good idea to remember that.

olga said...

You are very lucky one. Having never had extended family, I am blessed with friends and do remember it every mile of every run, as well as between those.
Michelle, you deserve everyone of them attention. You are a blessing yourself.

robtherunner said...

Great post Michelle. It is easy to forget about how blessed we are.

craig said...

Thanks for the post. I find that the times when our lives are completely in someone else’s hands are the times when life gets most real. There’s a reordering of our priorities and we are reminded of those things which are most important. Our relationships and our lives are made richer as we are reminded that we need each other in this life. Glad to hear that your surgery and recovery are going well. The sharing of your blessings blessed me today.

*jeanne* said...

Yes, you sound like you have much to celebrate, and for which to be grateful.

Your idea of grateful mindfulness while running sounds wonderful.

It's spring here. I think of my Mom (whom I lost to breast cancer in 2001) so much in the spring, when I'm out digging in the dirt, planting things just like she would have been doing.

I'm grateful that I had her for so long. And every day I am in awe of the love I have for my husband and my little cat.

Very thoughtful post today. Thank you.

Thomas said...

It's reaaly good to hear that the operation went well. Get better soon.

You asked how to pronounce Niamh, it's always pronounced like 'Nee-uhv' (it's a bit difficult to make it clear), and never ever as 'Neeve' (which is an English bastardisation of the gaelic name)

PuddyRat said...

Hmmm...on your sidebar is one of your former posts. The one about scarcity vs. abundance. You operate from the perspective of abundance and because you give out a lot (of your time, of yourself), you get it back twofold. You may be blessed, but so are we by knowing you.

Thanks for a great post.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

what a beautiful post. i love the idea of bringing mindfulness to my runs

Sarah Elaine said...

Beautiful post.

I also struggle to keep such thoughts in the foreground of my thoughts...

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

You have amazing family and friends.

I've been so caught up in my own family illnesses and surgery that I didn't realize you were dealing with some stuff as well.

I hope you are doing well after your surgery and recover quickly.