I’ve already put this on Facebook separately, but here, I want to go into more detail on the things that I am thankful for this holiday season.
I am thankful for having a gorgeous, talented, patient, loving wife that I fall more and more in love with every single day. Our symptoms struggle for dominance often, and that means there are shouting matches. More than I really wish to admit. Those fights are one of the biggest, if not the biggest reason I want to get better. Outside of our bouts of mutual irrationality, I can count on one hand the number of actual, rational disagreements we’ve had in almost 15 years together. I am profoundly happy with my marriage and become more and more so with each passing year.
I am thankful that my frighteningly intelligent, absolutely beautiful, insanely talented, totally awesome daughter is a part of my life again. She’s exceptionally busy with making a life for herself, and so I don’t get a chance to check in with her as often as I would like, but I am inordinately proud of her every accomplishment and will tell anyone that stands still long enough how much I love her.
I am thankful that my mother is relatively healthy and that our relationship is in a good place right now. It has not always been so, and I miss my mom. She’s starting to be scared of aging – she’s going to turn 83 next year – and I’m scared for her. With every word she can’t think of, with every time she repeats herself, she becomes terrified of the possibility of early onset Alzheimer’s. (Her assisted living facility has a memory unit, and she volunteers there, reading to her fellow residents. She sees what the disease is capable of on a frequent basis, and it is her biggest fear by far.) I tell her that I’m experiencing the same thing, but I withhold that I don’t lose words or repeat myself as often as she is starting to. I wish I could tell her that I’m scared for her, but I have to be strong and reassuring. When I’m having an off day, I can’t deal with how difficult she can be. But I’m thankful that, with my newfound confidence and ability to cope, we are able to talk and enjoy one another’s company again.
I am thankful that a certain black and white kitten helped herself to our apartment one Sunday morning. My life has been better and decidedly less boring because of it. She’s grown into an affectionate, loving, playful cat and she has absolutely helped with my symptoms and calming them down. When you’re having a rough day, and a ball of soft fur climbs onto your leg and rubs against your elbow hoping to get pettings, it’s the most awesome feeling in the world. She makes the best faces when I scritch the top of her head, with her mouth hanging slightly open, like what I’m doing is the best thing ever. She can be a handful sometimes, but she’s learned the meaning of “no ma’am” and “time out.” She came into my life at just the right moment and she’s been an invaluable piece of my therapy and recovery.
I am thankful for experiencing a resurgence in my physical and mental health, and actually enjoying the experience. I look forward to being physically active, to eating healthier, and to applying the things that I’m learning about my new diagnosis. I don’t remember a time that I was this mindful about my physical, emotional, and mental states. When I was a teenager and actively running 10Ks and backpacking parts of the Appalachian Trail, I didn’t think about the health benefits; it was just fun. Then other things became fun, and I stopped being so active. I’m learning that it’s a kind of fun that I miss and have done so for years and years. Getting back in shape is going to take a lot of time, but the journey will definitely be worth it. And enjoyable. Even when my calves are screaming at me to park it on the couch.
I am thankful for having a roof over my head, and food in my larder, and clean water to drink. In many parts of the world, these things alone would make me one of the “haves.” So often in the Western world, we take these things for granted. Today especially, I want to give thanks to those people that take care of our apartment and the rest of the complex, the millions of people involved in our food chain, and everyone that works to make sure that our water is safe to drink and plentiful. If I could make one wish this holiday, it is that everyone were able to have access to these fundamental basics.
I am thankful that we have a political system that allows each of us to have a voice in our government. I am hopeful that one day, it will work as intended.
I am thankful for the many talents that I have, and especially thankful that today, I can see them clearly. Today, I am aware that I am a very good cook, that I am a capable singer and performer, that I am a proficient writer, that I am compassionate and kind and loving of my fellow man, and that these things are only part of what make me unique and worthy. May I remember these things tomorrow and every day after that, and may I continue to discover new talents and develop new skills as I grow older.
I am thankful for my friends, most of whom I consider chosen family, who are so accepting, encouraging, and supportive of me. Every single one of them. Even the ones that my struggles have pushed away for now. Without you, I cannot imagine how lonely, boring, and difficult every day would be. Knowing how dark my days have been in the past, I’d prefer not to imagine the potential outcome of a world without my friends.
And once again, I want to reiterate just how much I love and appreciate my wife, my best friend, and my soulmate Stacy. More than there are stars, and until they all fade out.