My Unconventional Gratitude

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for so many things: my health, my family, and the life we live are a given. Those are the old Thanksgiving standbys.

But, this year, I wanted to create this list, and get it down, out where everyone can see, because my gratitude is so deep this year, deeper than I ever thought possible. I am a completely different person than I was last year; my heart, soul and mind were altered over the course of the last 12 months. I understand more, and at the same time, have become more unsure about so much.

This change in me, though, has caused me to reflect more fully on what I am actually thankful for, rather than just arbitrarily brush this holiday off. I realize my life is as full and happy as it is because of some very specific things that I never imagined I would need to articulate.

First, my Jackson. He is here, he is with us. A year ago, when I was five months pregnant, being grateful for his birth would have crossed my mind, but it wouldn’t hold the weight that it does now. He is here against overwhelming odds. So much wrong, and yet, so much right at the same time. He has the strongest soul I’ve ever seen in such a little guy, and I’m so happy each day I open my eyes to find him a part of my life.

Dr. Erez, the man who touched Jackson’s heart with his human hands, worked his beautiful magic, and then sewed him up like a talented seamstress, leaving him with the most gorgeous and faint scar ever seen on an infant. This man will have my gratitude for the rest of my life, every time I see Jackson breathe, and witness his pink, perfect skin– a testament to his heart working as it should.

The artificial gadgets that function like human parts, without which my son wouldn’t be alive. The inventor of the patch that was used to close the hole in his heart, and the creator of the g-button that sits in my son’s stomach. As afraid as I was of these things, I have grown to love them. They keep him alive, and they let him enjoy life.

Facebook is a part of my list this year, too. The advice, encouragement, and sympathy from the parents of kids just like Jackson has been nothing short of a saving grace as we grappled with each new diagnosis, and held our breaths through each new procedure. Support systems don’t have to be face-to-face, I’ve learned.

My spirited, stubborn, resilient daughter winds up this list. She is always on my list, but this year I’m more in awe of her than ever. She didn’t escape the summer without a little scarring, and is a little more clingy, but she holds nothing against us, and absolutely nothing against her brother. She adores him; worrying and alerting me when he cries, laughing when he laughs, and screaming, “SAY MAMA!” in his face to help him learn to speak, in a much harsher version of me. She is already the best big sister, and I couldn’t be more proud.

These things are added to my original list…

My family, who has let me cry and scream and rail, using them as scapegoats. Thanks for loving me through this time in my life I didn’t think would ever get better.

My husband, who couldn’t be a better dad if he wanted to, and is a better husband than I sometimes deserve. Thanks for all the mornings you let me sleep in, and always cleaning the kitchen when it needs to be done, and taking over the sweeping and mopping responsibilities when you realized it was just not my thing. Thanks for loving our kids so much that it pushes you to the point of pain. We’ve been at that point too much this year.

My Thanksgiving list is long, unconventional, and needed to be written. I doubt (I hope) I’ll ever have a Thanksgiving that requires so much reflection again.


Edited To Add:

Jackson’s amazing physical and speech therapists, who have both talked me off an emotional edge when I get too far ahead of myself regarding Jackson’s progress. Their positive, uplifting attitudes about how well he’s doing, how well Sydney is doing, and how well we are functioning as a family after this summer has calmed me down more than once. Thank you, Meagan and Natalie, we are grateful for you!

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