I was looking at my Timehop app this morning, and it reminded me that, this time last year, I was sitting on my favorite grey couch (er, my only couch?), in my Finisher pajamas from 2014 Beach 2 Battleship–and knocked down sick with my second round of diverticultis.
I looked down at my pajamas. Same situation, just Hello Kitty. And in the recliner. Not the couch.
Another Thanksgiving and I am laid up sick. And that is okay… because I have so much to be thankful for. I have fantastic health, save this flu hybrid monster. I have countless blessings and countless loves and reasons to cry tears of joy today.
I made a giant crockpot of chicken soup (recipe is SO going up on Instagram, because it is the bomb dot com). So I plan to have the next five meals of chicken soup.
And today, I have had Andrea Peet on my mind… as many of you know, she’s one of our fellow triathletes who was diagnosed with ALS last year while training for her first half Ironman triathlon. We started the “Be Brave. Be Thankful” Virtual Race in her honor today. Not only because her devastating news of ALS was, in fact, absolutely devastating… but more because, despite the troubles and pain that Andrea suffers… she continues to be one of the brightest lights I know.
I also checked back in on a blog that I read last year, a life-ending post… Get out your tissues for this one if you haven’t read it. The summary is a blog of a woman’s account of the last days with her husband as he melted away from a brain tumor. The way she writes and documents the love, the bravery, the small things that we, as healthy or alive people, take wholly for granted.
She wrote the words she whispered to him, in his last day… “It’s okay. It’s okay. Thank you. We had so many good years. Not enough, but really good years. You were so good. You were so good to me. I love you. I’ll keep you in my heart, forever. It’s okay.”
Then she wrote: “He breathed out, and I readied for the sharp inhale that would follow 8-10 seconds later, rattling through his body. It never came. That’s how it ends. One quiet second.”
Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (That’s the ugly cry sound that my college roommate and I put into an actual word. Beeeeeee! You’re welcome. 🙂 )
SO I read that again this morning, about 4:45 AM from the bed, as my son, age 8, crawled in with me.
(“Stay away from my face, buddy. I have the plague.” He looks at me, “What is the plague?” “Nevermind.”)
I pulled him against me, and felt his little toasty precious arms and his flannel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pajamas. Then his sister comes toddling in (not really toddling, I guess–she’s almost 7)… her bedhead fresh, and her breath dragon-like. She piles in, too.
And I think, “How many more years of this do I have?”
Soon after this fleeting thought, the house was lit up and we were getting things ready to leave for the three of them. I was staying home, ready to crawl back into bed with my pounding head. Too sick, too contagious.
And as the Expert and kids piled into the car to travel, I was overcome with fear and sadness. [I am sort of morbid sometimes–I don’t mean to be. I blame years of being a semi-only child and having unlimited access to a library from a young age.]
But for a moment, I was terrified that I was going to lose all three of them–in some natural disaster, a car accident, what have you… that I was going to be home with the flu… and I should be in the car with them–getting everyone totally sick with each hacking cough–but at least I would be with them if anything happened.
They arrived safely, a few moments ago, at their destination and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Still… there are no guarantees. On anything. So I just want to be so very thankful for each day, each breath and each moment I have. [If you are in the middle of the post-race blues, depression, or experiencing a massive setback… I found this post I wrote last year, that might resonate: The Art of the Setback]
Kissing my family goodbye this morning, I was filled to the brim with gratefulness and also, fear… then I remembered this verse:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” I John 4:18
That, of course, is hard to pin on mere mortals, on humans.
But God gives us perfect love. And that spirit of perfect love–the love that is fearless and whole– is the one that I want to hold onto. The one that comes in the shape of delicious, bed-headed little kiddos in the wee hours of the morning. That comes with a perfect cup of coffee on a cold Thanksgiving day. That comes with a soul-cleansing run. Love for God. Love for your kids. Your partner. Your friends.
And the most difficult: Love for Yourself.
Taking time to love yourself is very much a brave act. Recognizing that life is short and nothing is guaranteed–and truly breathing that little fact in–that is brave, and it is the source of thankfulness.
I miss my family today. But I know that they love me. And they know I love them.
Find your perfect love today. Whatever that may be. Breathe it in. Be Brave. Be Thankful.
Love to you all. Happy Thanksgiving.
[From the Swim Bike Recliner, in Hello Kitty pjs.] 🙂