(This post was written back in 2010 and it still resonates with me. Today, I am thankful that in the past year, although there are new medical challenges, the same grace and mercy have brought me to a wonderfully caring endocrinologist, Dr. Karen Herbst in San Diego, who specialises solely in this hard to diagnose illness called lipedema/Dercum’s Disease and is the foremost researcher in the USA for the said disease! I am thankful that this year I am seeing some of the ‘old spark’, as my kindly neighbour, Jeannette said to me the other day, came back, albeit slowly 🙂
I am thankful for the goodness that allowed me to visit so many friends around the world, reconnect, bond and realise what true friendship is all about. And I am thankful for family, for friends who are more like family than some family.. y’all know what I’m talkin’ ’bout now, don’t be playin’ me!
But most of all, I am grateful for the Hand of Heaven which never lets go, come what be and for that exquisite experience in Chartres, France – to walk the labyrinth in the cathedral and never have pain in my right knee since. And, of course, how can I leave out that one platinum blondie I happen to meet at the Charles de Gaulle airport train station and found out over the course of a month, we are what the Irish call, ‘anam cara’- Soul friend. I’ve been so blessed this year that the episodes of excruciating pain and depression pale in comparison. The Light of Love truly drives out the darkness!! And laughter, is really, truly, most awesomely, the best medicine! Especially, when it is shared with your spouse!
I wish all of you the most contemplative, sincerely authentic season of thankfulness and gratitude for all the good in our lives. Be blessed, my friends! Happy, blessed Thanksgivng)
(first posted November 2010)
Yesterday I began what I hope to be the start of a new tradition. I began a countdown to Thanksgiving. Christmas has the Advent calender but no one really does a calender countdown to Thanksgiving. Wherever you are in this world, there is a reason for a Thanksgiving Day. There are always enough reasons to give thanks for today, right now in the present.
I hope to push away the negatives of what life realistically throws at me with the positives abundant around me, if only I am still enough, silent enough to recognise them. I have found myself mired in such a sad, depressive bog lately. Sometimes I know why I am so sad, sometimes I just don’t understand it. It began last year, probably even before that, as I really cannot recall. Which was yet another thing that caused the depression. This feeling of I know this, but I just cannot seem to fully recapture it. So there is no full knowledge. Quite annoying for someone like me who has been likened to a hound dog when it comes to getting to the bottom of something with full explanations of the whats, the whys and the hows. The simplest, tiniest thing could set me off, bawling my eyes out. Every thought seemed oppressive, heavy with should-haves, the guilt unbearable.
Last Sunday, knowing how much I love a drive around town, Brett took me to breakfast and then, we drove around running errands. As we did, we noticed the little sunbreaks every now and then. I said to him as we passed Magnolia over the Ballard Bridge that I absolutely loved how it looked right at that moment. The houses, the hill itself were cocooned in heavy mist. It seemed other worldly. It was beautiful. We drove down the streets by Seattle Pacific University and there were some trees which had their red, orange and yellow leaves still on them while most of the pavement below was carpeted by fallen leaves. It was beautiful.
I realise I cannot allow for the noise around me to drown out what is good in my life. And by taking time to withdraw into contemplative silence, the good crystlliases. I have much to be thankful for. I began my countdown yesterday on my Facebook page by being thankful for the unstoppable grace and the ever flowing mercy of God. Because how can I not? My very life, my very breath; every step I can take, be it with or without pain; the ability to still appreciate the ‘funny’ while in immeasurable sadness and be able to laugh; the fact that through medications, I am still able to function and although I abhor it, know that the occasional high doses and days of rest prior are what enable me to recapture the social butterfly I once was, even for one night. His grace and mercy propel me to wake up wanting to live for the new day, make my coffee and connect with someone and be sane. Mercy makes the adrenaline flow and grace allows me to focus as much as I can during conversations with friends. Mercy allows me to go to the grocery once a week while grace holds me up with enough wherewithal to have a grocery list!
If not for His grace and mercy, I would not have made it to my father’s funeral last December. I would not have survived the countless Addisonian crises over the years. There is no reason other than grace and mercy that I escaped catching the H1N1 virus while we were in Malaysia during the height of the epidemic, going in and out of the medical center where Papa was hospitalised. If not for grace and mercy, I would not have been able to walk as much as I did and endure the long haul flight to and back from Malaysia to settle Mummy back into her house in June. And it is nothing but God’s grace and mercy which brought Brett to me eleven years ago.
Today, nine days before Thanksgiving, I give thanks for my Brett. Not mincing words, he is God’s grace and mercy in action, personified. When all seems dim and hopeless, I look at his face, reflecting pure love, unquestioning, non-judgmental. He is my sounding board, my rock and my anchor, grounding me to what is real, what is true and what is meaningful. There are evenings when he literally becomes my legs as he helps me walk the distance between bed and bathroom. There are times when he literally is my safety net as he catches me when I black out and fall onto the floor.
Again last Sunday, on our little outing, Brett and I sat in a cafe and shared the reading of an article in the Pacific Northwest magazine of the Seattle Times. It chronicled the near tragic journey of a new friend of ours, Catherine Reynolds. Brett and I teared up and sobbed at the same points, oblivious to other cafe patrons. See, while I had been warned about the possibility of a brain aneurysm occurring anytime, Catherine actually had a brain aneurysm and went through brain surgery. We bonded almost immediately because we both understood what brain fog was like, what depression feels like etc. And we share the gift of having awesome husbands who stand by us through thick and thin (literally as we gain and loose weight due to steroids/medications). The kind of husbands who love you even when you talk gibberish during your brain fog and pass out, only to wake up saying “fried chicken”!!
Cath wrote me Sunday night saying “Take care & hug your man. Having a partner who loves you through it all is SO important.” How true! I tell my closest friends, and now the world, that without Brett, I would have either died or been severely disabled a long time ago. Our shared moments these past eleven years are a potpourri of moments – of laughter, tears of pain; giggles, sobs of frustration. And moments where he took my breath away. Not by giving me diamonds or gold, but by the unprompted action of carrying my ill father down the steps to the car, feeding and bathing him and holding his hand to steady him while Papa walked in India, in Malaysia and in Seattle. I think Papa knew a good thing when he saw it. Whenever Brett was around, Papa wouldn’t want to hold on to anyone else!
At our wedding in Malaysia, the biblical quote we used was “He has made all things beautiful in His time” (Ecc 3:11). God certainly has proven this in our lives. We may not have all the trappings of the world, but we have something more valuable than gold. What use is a mansion if the walls cannot sing of the joy of its inhabitants? What use a fancy mantel and fireplace if the house does not exude the warmth of love? What use is a fancy car if your partner cannot carry you when you fall? The Lord has blessed us with each other and a love so wonderful. Indeed, Brett’s banner over me is love!! (Song of Solomon 2:4) and for this Brett of mine, I am most thankful!
To read Catherine’s story: (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw/2013339571_pacificpcatherine14.html?cmpid=2628