For the past few years, my friend Jote has encouraged people to take the month of December and find something to be grateful for every single day. I'm never very good at keeping up, and I'm sure that I won't be good at keeping up this year, either. But today… today is sunny and quiet. Today I have three healthy children who are all at school with friends they love. Today I have a glass of iced cold brew (with some Hershey's special dark chocolate blended in). Today I have excellent music playing loud and clear through the whole house. Today I have the morning to enjoy all of these things while I work on my newest book that's under contract.
I'm ridiculously grateful for these things. Almost unspeakably grateful. Breathtakingly grateful.
And yet… there's more.
This book that I'm working on – agonizing over, really – is about a boy who has a baby brother with a trach. A few days ago I got the first part of the advance for this book. It went directly into the bank. I stared at the statement. It's not a ton of money. Not even a half a ton. But compared to a few years ago, it's a megaton. Compared to the years when the baby with a trach was in my living room and not in my book, it's a bit of a miracle. And even more miraculous, I don't have to immediately take the money out of the bank to pay a doctor or to pay for medical supplies or to pay for travel expenses to see our Team of Superhero Doctors. I don't have to count every penny of it to make sure groceries and the mortgage are covered. Our Lone Star card is gone now. WIC is in our rear view mirror. Charitable Care programs no longer mean "programs to keep the Haiku of the Day family afloat."
So this morning – this beautiful December morning – I took some of that money and I made a donation to the hospital where my son had life-saving airway reconstruction surgery. Then I made a donation to the local PICU that saved his life – with some extra funds designated for the NICU that kept him breathing for his first 8 weeks. And I'm going to continue our monthly donation to the milk bank that, through its charitable care program, provided life-saving donor milk for nearly 18 months.
The idea of coming full circle has always seemed like an abstract ideal, until now. For many years, things were good. For many more years, things were not good. For the past couple of years, things have been on the upswing again. I'm grateful for all of these experiences. I'm grateful for the perspective and the pain and this stunningly wonderful and awful ability to truly understand what it's like to be swallowed by emotion. I'm grateful to be able to give back, even if it's not a lot, and even if it doesn't feel like I could ever give enough to truly say thank-you. I'm grateful that an abstract ideal now has a concrete definition.
Here we are.
It feels like it's not enough to be grateful. But I am. For everything.