All the discussions on Social Media about Gratitude caused me to pull this out of my Work In Progress. I have a lot more to say about the concept of finding thanks in all situations, and fostering positivity instead of glum attitudes - but I'll leave it with this for now.
The summer of 2009 was relatively quiet. This was good, very good, because the previous five months were not so good. All the complications of Tom’s disease seemed to show up at once, definitely unbidden. So, by August, Tom was feeling much better. The NG tube that was inserted in June was really helping. Not only was Tom able to put on some weight, his appetite improved for regular food as well.
At the end of the month, we were enjoying ourselves at our annual family reunion camping trip. We decided to let Tom have one night off from his tube feed, so he wouldn’t have to be anchored down by the pump. So while it was still light, he and a group of cousins were having a raucous game of wiffle ball. Then, Tom appeared back at our cabin, limping.
“I twisted my ankle, it really hurts.”
Nothing appeared broken; there was no horrible swelling or anything that needed serious medical attention. Tom rested for a bit by the campfire, and I promised ice to help with the discomfort, but soon he was off with his cousins again, just slowed down a little.
No big deal, right? Exactly right, but this memory is still SO vivid for me. While Tom was describing what happened, and wincing a little, an irrepressible thought kept bubbling up inside me, this is awesome! Yeah, it seems crazy. But I was actually thrilled with this injury. Thrilled!
My reaction surprised me at first, but it made sense. After months of watching Tom lying listlessly on a couch, or in a hospital bed, or halfheartedly going to school, this was a wonderful feeling to see him running around like a regular kid. To see him active enough to actually get hurt – what a wildly good feeling this was!
Also, a sore ankle, this was something I could handle. Not to make light of orthopedic problems, but to me, this sort of injury was more black and white (or black and blue, if you will). Break or no break, tear or no tear. At that very moment, we were coming off of a real uncertain time with Tom. Even the month before, when he was listed for transplant, there were still questions. The black and white part was that he was going to need a new liver. But there were questions about his lowered blood count and other issues.
So this minor injury was really major in that it reinforced a sense of gratitude. I was thankful that I could have small moments like these; moments that made me confident I could handle the bigger issues ahead.