Monday, July 22, 2019

It shouldn't take tragedy to make you count your blessings, but sometimes it does

The other weekend, we were driving home from Visiting Day at Sabrina's camp when I saw the post in my neighborhood group and I burst into tears. A nice guy, a father of two, had died unexpectedly. I thought about him all last week, trying to wrap my head around it. How could he be gone? Wasn't he just serving cotton candy with me at the block party? This weekend, I learned about the death of the husband of an online friend, who died in a freak beach accident. Another young dad, Lee Dingle, a father of six; one of the children has cerebral palsy and he and his wife, Shannon, had become advocates for special needs adoption (The family's GoFundMe is here.)

When tragedy strikes people in your circle,  no matter how close you are to them it tears at your heart, stumps your soul (why did such a good person die?) and slaps you upside your head: There but for the grace of God go you and the people you love. Why do you bicker with them and pester them and gripe about them when they are still here?  

And then you feel horrible that it takes a tragedy to make you realize how lucky you are. It's human nature, but still. And you feel doubly horrible that you are acknowledging your blessings at a time when another family is going through hell. Because this isn't about you, it is about them. And then you wonder what could make you count your blessings on a regular basis, one that isn't contingent upon hearing about tragedies. And then you go through that whole cycle again.

Suddenly it feels wrong to bug your husband about his dubious driving, because he is still sitting right there, beside you. And you stare at him and you think of what these other people are going through and you feel pained for them. And then, once again you are wondering why you take the loves of your life for granted, although you have flashes of gratitude for trivial stuff like, say, finding time for a pedicure. Which makes no sense at all.

The greatest gifts you have in the whole wide world—the people that you love—are the ones you often fail to acknowledge as gifts. 

You do whatever you can do for the families—pay a condolence call, donate to a fundraiser, bring over a meal, send a message. And you dole out more kisses and hugs than usual to your family and you're particularly aware of the warmth of their bodies next to yours. And you know: you are lucky to have the love that you've got for as long as you can have it. And maybe other people are better at recognizing this more regularly than you are, and it's something we all need to be more aware of. Because you just don't know.  

Image: Flickr

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