"Optimism is really rooted in gratitude."
~ Michael J. Fox
As this third Thanksgiving since John died approaches, I find myself with a sense of optimism I have not felt for many months. Surprisingly so, considering this past year filled with a global pandemic, isolation, political unrest, and the rampant fear, anxiety, and anger that resulted. But reading this quote by the actor, Michael J. Fox, makes so much sense to me because in spite of daily upsets and conspiracy theories, in spite of constant "the sky is falling" and threats and recriminations, I have managed somehow to record 3-5 statements of gratitude every night. On only one occasion were the statements a repeat of "I made it through the day." And though not always optimistic, I know the practice kept me from despair.
Were John alive, we would have engaged with a Thanksgiving ritual of taking turns expressing what we were grateful for over the past year. This year, I will initiate the ritual with my sister and brother-in-law with whom I am staying while I await the availability of my own apartment in the rolling hills of central NY. For, this, in itself, is certainly one of the most important items on my year's list of gratitudes.
I offer my list in the hope that it will trigger yours, initiate the possibility that you will adopt this ritual, and conclude with a feeling of optimism for the coming year.
This year I am grateful for:
- having made it without contracting the virus
- having friends who were as careful as I was, thus never endangering me
- the technology that made it, and will make it, possible for us to stay in contact, possibly the silver lining in this mess
- the e-mails and jokes that brought moments of laughter and respite from the steady stream of vitriol on the airwaves and social media
- my circle of "sisters" - you know who you are - who message every morning and every evening to stay in touch, just in case
- dessert sunsets in Utah
- autumn colors in NY
- the constant companionship of my sweet rescue dog, Rufus
- having sold my home in UT in 2 days
- the incredible efforts of support from friends who were there when I most needed them and helped to make the move a success in a very short time
- the kind notes and e-mails that acknowledged the contributions I tried to make to my little Utah community and the many friendships I forged in the process; the notes and e-mails from old friends to encourage and cheer me on
- a safe automobile journey across the country, thanks to the chauffeuring of a young friend and the absence of snow
- her continued help in tying up loose ends; I never could have pulled this off without her
- the care and generosity of my sister and brother-in-law, especially his wonderful cooking and both of their patience and tutelage as I learn my way around newer technology and newer environs
- getting to know them at a different level, growing to love and appreciate them even more
- chocolate covered blueberries and glasses of chilled white wine
- finding an apartment that meets all of my criteria
- the unexpected kindnesses of strangers, strangers who are willing to wear masks
- the prospect of seeing old friends I haven't seen in years and family I have yet to meet
- being with my sister on the second anniversary of John's death, she who was with us that night
- warm memories that bring smiles now instead of tears
- being in the position to explore the area, make new friends, strengthen family ties, indulge in hobbies - how fortunate am I?
- and last, but most certainly not least, the e-mail from an old friend on the day I was questioning my decision to move, wondering what lies ahead of me, filled with doubts and misgivings. Her kind assurance that John would surely say, "that's my Angie", was the perfect boost. I, too, know he would.
With so much to be grateful for, how could I not be optimistic?