Monday, 24 November 2008

It seems like just yesterday in many ways, but it's actually been nine years - An eternity and the blink of an eye, all rolled into one. So much has changed in that time, yet so much seems the same.

My son died suddenly on November 24th so many years ago, and while much has happened and changed in the intervening time, there's a slice of me that was sort of put on hold back then - almost as if one dimension of time simply stopped still while another kept on moving along. I miss Brian, but I am also thankful for the time we had together.

So, the Thanksgiving holiday is always a bit of a rough time for me, one with mixed feelings. Each year, however, I purposefully try my best to remember what the holiday is all about and to reflect on the things in life for which I am truly grateful, and there are many. One of the ways I do that is by writing and re-writing this, partly for me and in no small part for others who might be feeling much the same way. Over the past couple years I've published versions of the words things I'm repeating here, but that's what it's all about really - looking back, reflecting on progress, changing and growing as we move forward.

Not too long ago some friends of mine impressed upon me the importance of adopting an "attitude of gratitude" in life. What they meant - at least in part - was that the place where you focus your thoughts is pretty much where you'll end up, and that being grateful for what you have - rather than obsessed with what you don't have - is a good thing to do. For the most part I think they're right. This time of year I tend to think about a lot of things, some difficult and some pleasant. But every year I try to take some Thanksgiving time to remember that even though life is crazy and our time is often too short, there are so many things in life for which I am grateful and give thanks.

Life's not perfect, and from the depths of the desperate situations and experiences that substantially change us - often things that we would never wish to have happen again, to anyone - we are destined to learn and grow, and hopefully to become better people in the end. I know I have experienced that over the years, and my life is quite different as a result.

But, this is supposed to be about what I am thankful for. About gratitude.

I am thankful for my friends, my family, my work, my home, my goofy dog. I am grateful for doctors who fixed my damaged body and for people who cared enough to put their lives on hold when I needed it. I sometimes wish I was better to those who have been so good to me, and I strive to find ways to give back and pay forward. I truly appreciate them, and am thankful they are a part of my life.

There are many people in this world much better than me, and a few of those good people I've had the privilege to know personally. I am thankful for them, even if I don't or can't always show it when it counts. I only hope in the future I can be more much more worthy of their qualities.

Thanksgiving doesn't have to be just one day a year. We can - and should - remember these things every day. But in a busy world of getting from here to there, a strong reminder never hurt anyone.

I'm grateful for my life, the people in it, the goods and the bads, and for the possibilities of the future - whatever those may be. I've been very fortunate in many, many ways, and am truly thankful for that. As they say, "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."

Yes, it is.



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Personal Stories
Monday, 24 November 2008 11:37:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Monday, 24 November 2008 12:20:19 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I've only been a Dad for three and 3/4 years. I went into this role somewhat reluctantly. But after about 6-9 months, holding my Darling Daughter in my arms, I can't imagine anything more beautiful.

Last night, I rocked my Smiling Son to sleep. He was cranky, teething, has a cold, just not doing the best. I am never happier than when I hold my kids.

Sometimes, when I hear stories like yours, see something on TV, or read the news, I get a glimpse of life without one or both of my kids. As my imagination begins to pursue that agenda, I begin to recoil in fear and hopelessness.

I never understood before, the pain of death. I never really "got it." Sure, I've been appropriately sympathetic, but I didn't really understand until my Mom died three years ago. Now, I have a glimpse of what it is like to lose someone close.

Greg, I cannot even begin to imagine your grief - the loss. The hopes, the dreams, the expectations - all of it crashing down. I'm not sure I could survive it - let alone want to.

I've talked with a fair number of parents who've lost their kids. The common denominator is that this event is the one that defines them. It puts new meaning on Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

Just know this. I hear you. I stand beside you. I don't fully comprehend your loss, but you are not alone.

On top of all that, I have great respect for your ability to recover from that day and to move forward in your life.

"What Satan intended for evil, God has turned to good." Genesis 50
Monday, 24 November 2008 14:28:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Gary, what a GREAT reply to my friend Greg! Very heart felt and warming.
Greg, I didn't check your web site until after i had gotten your email. It sure doesn't seem like 9 years, almost seems like 2 years ago. Have fun with the friends this week and if they are the ones I met years ago, tell them hello! Tell them that anyway! :)
Chris
Tuesday, 25 November 2008 08:32:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Just wanted to say Hi and let you know I was thinking about you Gerg.
Dave M
Wednesday, 26 November 2008 13:01:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Happy Turkey day Greg. I hope you are surrounded by those you love today.

justin p
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