This time last year I said to my husband, “I know no one’s life is perfect, but mine is pretty close,” and I meant it. After nearly 5 years of commuting, working weekend and 3 A.M. shifts, I was so thankful for how drastically different my life had become. It was at this point that I started to love being a stay at home mom and wife. I loved my first glimpse of Air Force life. I loved living in a different place than I was used to and getting to explore our great country. I was thankful for every part of my life.
My, the difference a year can make. 2013 was without a doubt the happiest year of my life and 2014 has been the most difficult.
If you’ve been following my blog recently, you know all about it. We learned that we got nothing on our dream sheet and were moving to the middle-of-nowhere New Mexico. Once we got to New Mexico, we discovered our unborn son has Down syndrome and ever since then it’s been weeks of battling grief and battling the Air Force to move us to a place where there is a children’s hospital with better care. 2014 has been one struggle after another. We have had to fight to find a sliver of happiness in each day.
But as the grief is starting to wear off, I’ve become more thankful than I ever have been. When times are bad, it makes you realize how good you’ve had it. Right now when nothing seems to be going our way, I’m very aware of how nearly everything went our way in years past.
It starts with having parents that pushed me to step out of my comfort zone to go to a school that was best for my career (that ultimately was the reason I met my Andy), I got not only a news job in 2009 (the height of the recession) but a reporter job right out of school that happened to be close to where Andy got into dental school, I got pregnant at the perfect time with Violet which allowed me to be a stay-at-home-mom…the list goes on.
When you are going through times of trouble, your first reaction is going to be “poor me”, but as time passes, you become more aware of other’s trials. For the first time I’ve noticed the Airmen and their families who live in the trailer parks a few streets behind our house. For the first time, I’m aware that people have children with severe disabilities and illnesses. For the first time, I’m aware of how hard people really have it. Sure, I was exposed to hardships before. As a former reporter, I’ve stood in the same spot where teens were murdered. I’ve looked into mothers’ eyes as they talked about the child they just lost. I’ve seen hell on earth. But I never felt it. I couldn’t really relate to any one’s pain because I had never experienced true heartbreak myself.
This Thanksgiving I have so much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for all of the moments my life fell perfectly into place and I’m thankful for the times when it has not. I’m thankful for what I was able to accomplish in the best of times and how much I’ve grown in the worst of times. I’m more compassionate, more empathetic now than I’ve ever been. That didn’t happen because of the lessons I learned when I was happy, I’ve changed for the better in the times I’ve been sad.
I know the sun will shine on us again one day. Although the immediate future brings so many uncertainties with it, I know that it will eventually be bright. I know this because we have a God, family and friends who love us. Until those days come, I’m thankful for the gray clouds up above and the lessons they are pouring down.