Last Thanksgiving my estranged father had returned to LA from a year in Hawaii, where he was recovering from numerous back surgeries and trying to get a way from it all. His choice to leave was not fully supported by my family, but he had come home to try to make it work with my mother, and move back in as I had just moved out of my family’s house. I insisted that he come to my cousins for Thanksgiving, and I am so happy he did. I wasn’t sure if it would be awkward or what, but sure enough everyone welcomed him with open arms and the drama was left at the door.
I am a glass half full kind of gal, and after what had been a troubling year for my family and my parents’ relationship, I saw happiness and love as we all gathered around for the Holiday. I was truly thankful to have this normal day, all together…
We had so much to be thankful for; new babies, my mothers recovery from breast cancer, my new amazing job… seemed like a dream come true.
If I had only known that a month later I would lose that amazing job, breakup with my boyfriend of two years and that my dad would fall ill and pass away.
The month following Thanksgiving was good, all things considering. Until I heard my office was closing, but hey, I could handle that. I knew I would be back on my feet in no time. On the 18th, I went to Vegas with my BFF for 5 days (PS no one should ever go to Vegas for 5 days), and returned on Xmas Eve. I had a billion presents, and I even bought a Christmas tree (my Dad didn’t even want to do Christmas because he felt so sick and depressed, but I insisted). As I carried in bags of presents, and a 5 foot tall tree, just like Santa himself, I thought I could bring happiness to all of the little boys and girls in my house. Christmas was sort of like the old times. We sat around, drank coffee, had delicious pastries, and talked and laughed and opened presents. The day after Christmas my dad who had been sick with what they thought was a type of walking pneumonia, insisted we call an ambulance and get him to the hospital. We thought he was exaggerating but we called and got him one. When the medics arrived they said it was a good thing we called because his oxygen levels were extremely low. What followed was a week in the hospital where he kept getting worse and worse , until cardiac arrest lead him to be in what the doctors considered a vegetative state from which he would never recover. On January 6th, we took my Dad off the respirator and within a minute he was gone. We knew he would have never wanted to be alive in that way.
After all of these traumatic things had happened, that glass that was half full, got bone dry very quickly. Everything crumbled apart so terribly, I didn’t know what to do but just scream and laugh (probably in a very crazy, mad scientist, drunk kind of way), because how could this even happen?
After a couple months of shock, and a phase of victimization ie ‘how could this happen?’ ‘what did I do to deserve this?’ I started to count my blessings:
I am so thankful that I still have my mother.
I am so thankful I have a roof over my head.
I am so thankful I have a family that cares so much about me.
I am so thankful that I have such amazing, wonderful, supportive friends.
I am so thankful, that I had an AMAZING father for 24 years, and that he raised me to be the person I am today.
I am so thankful I had the opportunity to work with one of the top ad agencies in the world.
I am so thankful I had two wonderful years with someone I loved.
The list could go on and on. This whole year, me, myself, and I had been sitting around a theoretical Thanksgiving table, going around and thinking of all the reasons I am lucky, and not all of the reasons that I have to be sad.
People ask me how I can be so strong, and it is because of this. There are plenty of reasons to be sad, regardless of your situation, but there are SO many reasons to be happy. If you had told me on Thanksgiving last year that this year my father wouldn’t be sitting around the table, I would have never believed you. Even after my mom has just gotten re-diagnosed with breast cancer 3 months ago, I am still thankful because she is here with me today.
Life is not easy, but if you can really live in the moment and realize all of the great blessings you do have, then you will always have a rich life full of love and happiness.
Because isn’t that what we are all searching for anyway?