I never knew gratitude had the power to bring my soul to its knees. But, as I discovered this week, more precisely Wednesday afternoon at 4.30 pm, it does. That was when my father called, unexpectedly, to tell me that the hospital had called him, unexpectedly. And then he said those three little words that every daughter (or at least every daughter in my situation) longs to hear: The treatment’s working.
At that moment, I felt the bands of utter indifference that have been tightening around my heart lately begin to loosen. Alone in the the little meeting room I had snuck into the take the call, I sat down and cried. Never ever can I remember feeling so happy, so humble, so utterly grateful.
As I walked home, I noticed all the trees that seemed suddenly to have burst into bloom. The hanging flowers that I had to brush past to get home were fragrant with the promise of spring and the joy of a future that suddenly seemed alive again. I looked back and I realised that the time I fell ill was the same time everyone else seemed to stop believing that this treatment was working. And even though I kept believing, keeping the faith when you feel like you’re the only one it’s a long and lonely vigil.
But with that phone call the world opened up again. I felt as though I could breathe. I could look into the world again and see hope, see Christmases yet to come, see birthdays and holidays and just … just days. Days where I do not fear that every little thing we do together is done for the last time. There was laughter again for all of us, laughter not overshadowed by the constant desire to maintain a brave face.
All I kept repeating over and over in my mind was, ‘Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.’
It got me thinking about gratitude. I am always grateful for the opportunities I am given, for the love I have in my life, but so much of our gratitude is abstract. Do you also remember hearing, ‘Be grateful for that food. There are thousands of starving children in Africa who would love to have it.’ But if you’ve never been hungry, it’s hard to be truly grateful for what is no more than status quo. If you’ve been A1 since Day One, it’s hard to be grateful for your good health because it’s just always been there.
True gratitude, I believe, is humble. It knows the other side of the coin. When it comes, it feels like the very universe is wrapping a blanket around you, promising you that, at least for now, everything is all right again and you are safe. You can let go. For that feeling, you fall to your knees and weep.
Then last night, I saw that one of my favourite bloggers, the Orang-Utan Librarian, included me in a post about bloggers who deserve more attention. For that, I am also grateful. After all these weeks of feeling like nothing could come write, nothing could be written and all the work I had done had been for nothing, I found that I was wrong. I could let go of the worry, because it had all been worthwhile.