Today I was feeling pretty down. An argument with the spouse last night lingered into the day’s mood. I couldn’t seem to muster even a slight smile. I felt on the verge of tears about nothing and everything. I struggled to be productive, wishing for a rainy day to give me a better reason for feeling so sluggish and gloomy. I spent the day attending a self-sponsored pity party.
As the afternoon moved along, I began to feel guilty. Having scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, I read status updates from friends and family members who were struggling with parents’ health issues, very sick children, and the tragic loss of loved ones gone too soon. I began to feel that I wasn’t entitled to my melancholy morning knowing there are people in much worse situations than mine. I have loved ones dealing with difficult and painful realities that make my morose attitude seem inconsequential. I needed to snap out of it.
The Boy arrived home from school and his happy-to-be-home greeting made me smile. Even more, his happy-to-see-his-Mom face nearly made me cry. He came to give me a hug and said “oh, wait, I have some papers to give you.” He went to his backpack and returned with two things. He handed them to me and hugged me. Actually, saying he hugged me doesn’t quite capture what happened. My fourteen-year-old son put his arms around me and stood that way for a solid three minutes. I was wrapped in love. Embraced by a reminder of what is so good in my life. Just sweetly, tenderly, lovingly holding on to me. And me holding on to him. He had no idea how much I needed that.
As we stood there, still hugging, I glanced at the papers. I noticed one of them was a letter from the high school principal. I know it’s a very rare occasion that brings an administrator at the secondary level to send home a letter with students. I scanned the first few words of the letter, with my arms around my son.
“It is with great sadness that we write to you.” My chest tightened and my jaw clenched. “On Sunday, September 8, 2013, one of our students died unexpectedly.” My breath caught in my throat. I stopped reading. I closed my eyes and focused completely on my arms around my son and his arms around me. I stopped everything else and just breathed in that moment. Thankful for my life–for my son, my daughter and my husband. Grateful for our families and friends. For our health and wealth of all the things that really matter. Remorseful for allowing myself to be caught up in comparatively trivial details and feeling sorry for myself.
As a rule of thumb I’m a pretty grateful person. A sarcastic, funny, crunchy girl on the outside but sweet, soft and sympathetic on the inside. I try to wake up each day with an appreciation for this wonderful life of mine. My easy, happy, boring, simple life. I am thankful.
I’m also human. I get frustrated and annoyed. I take things for granted. I get caught up in the little things. I forget how good my life is. I try to forgive myself the times I lose sight of my blessings. I try to refocus my vision and regain perspective. And, on days like today, I’m grateful that I sometimes have the help of my kids to remind me I’m so lucky to be living this good life.
Tonight I will hug my family tightly. I will tell them I love them. And I will shed tears–for the loss of a young student, for his family and friends. I will also shed grateful tears. Thankful for this imperfectly wonderful life.