Diary 11/24/20

I was thinking about gratitude as I often do. This season especially requires a deeper look in the face of what we have lost. I am grateful that my family remains perfectly well despite one positive Covid test result among us that canceled our “safe as possible” gathering for the holidays. I have suggested to past clients that they keep a Gratitude Jar for the year, writing down each incident that stands out, storing them all to reread on January first. Or to write down at least one thing you are grateful for every day for a week or a month. It is a wonderful practice. If you are as good as I am at envisioning the worst, as if a ‘superstition of pessimism’ can control the future, then it is a practical way to reroute your focus to looking instead at all of the things you are fortunate to experience in your life.

I am reminded of my own revelation of the unexpected gratitude that poured into me after the gripping grief at my husband’s death. Living as I do in a continuing care retirement community, death will claim some of us over the course of a year. On Sunday, we had a beautifully prerecorded memorial for all seventeen people who had left us without the usual in-person caring circle of family and friends from both within and outside of Kendal. We would have listened, told stories, and shared time with children and grandchildren to honor each life that had departed. It has been a unique Kendal tradition since its founding.

Yesterday’s skilled collaboration of histories, photos, and music was a tribute to the gifted adaptation of a memorial service in these times. As one community leader said in the presentation, “We wish we had known of their amazing history before they died. But truthfully, we didn’t because we knew them as the amazing people they were as active members of Kendal, and not for who they were before they came.”

The gratitude that filled me after processing my initial grief as a widow, came when the focus shifted naturally to the abundant riches my husband and I had shared and the evident fruits of our long life together. Missing him and our family holiday events touch me today, but they do not take center stage. My personal list of gratitude notes from last week include:

Thanks for my family and new and old friends.

Thanks for the cyber connections that have blossomed during our separations, including taking classes I could otherwise not have physically attended.

Thanks for the fact that I am not struggling for my daily survival as millions do but have the luxury of seeing my life and spiritual practice as one.

There are so many ways to show my gratitude and I have the rest of my life to do so.

Grief and Gratitude

Grief and Gratitude walked hand in hand

between the sand dunes

down to the beach

The sun just above the horizon

the sea was calm

the tide was slowly rising

They passed a young couple

and caught waves of

Gratitude for their new love

blind as yet to Grief

new rays glowing in their eyes

The wet packed sand

firm beneath their soles

leading them on and on

past so many human

pleasures and pains

the heat of our star

upon their heads

cool waters

washing over and over their feet

A thoughtful mother watched

her younger daughter squeal in outraged Grief

when the highest wave flooded

her sandy creation

the older brother smirking on higher ground

anticipating relentless change

the mother hoping

they would also come to know Gratitude

for this interlude of pleasure

and sleep on the way back

her husband packing up the car

for their inevitable sad return

Grief and Gratitude walked on and on

turned to face the setting sun

skirting rocks and seaweed

gulls watching from above

breezes carrying the day into night

A white-haired man, sitting alone

reaching for the last of his six-pack

the bitter taste of Grief and rage

alone without her for the rest of his life

he could not see Gratitude

the sunset glaring in his eyes

Grief and Gratitude

always linked

in silent embrace

resting on the shores of Home

walking with us

all of our days and nights

11/24/20 Judi Bachrach

4 thoughts on “Giving Thanks

  1. What a lovely reflection. I would add that in my experience gratitude is often if not always accompanied by grace. I felt that deeply reading your words. The other day I read the entirety of your journey on Caring Bridge, with humility that you have shared it and made possible my partaking of it. I am grateful. Thank you for being in this virtual world!

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