Lots of people have been writing all month about what they are grateful for and honestly, I think most of it is sappy and annoying. It’s the season that people remember they have more people in their lives and try to look outside themselves. I was probably one of those people a year ago, a person with narrow vision only expanded when stores started putting up holiday decorations. This year has changed everything – obviously.
My priorities have shifted and my focus has become razor sharp. I am thankful for my tight little circle of people, people to whom I owe an emotional debt I know I will never ever be able to begin to repay. I am thankful for the people who let me express the rage and grief and unstable emotions so powerful I can’t even express them properly without ever faltering. They stood by me while I stood at the edge of the cliff and stared into the abyss, while I contemplated the nothingness one jump away, they waited until I finally backed away too stubborn to give in. These people dropped their lives and spent $1000 a ticket when it was clear that life had sucker punched me. I don’t know about you but I know I rarely have a grand to blow on a plane ticket just lying around. But they came anyway, they found a way when the world shattered around me and they stood by me when I raged so hard it was finally obvious why storms are named after people.
I don’t have many people because I don’t invite very many in close but for those few I would walk through hell for and I am thankful that they did the same for me. People like that don’t come around every day.
I am thankful for the trials that I have endured and the pain I have suffered even though that sounds insane on just about every level. If there was anything I could have ever done to change the outcome I obviously would have though that was never in my power and I refuse to dwell in the ‘what if’s’ but I am grateful because not only did the pain show me the limits of my endurance but also cut away all the fat of life. I can tell you without a doubt that 95% of my previous life, my previous concerns, worries, cares, and stress do not matter so I let them go. I sometimes feel disconnected from others because of this, I sometimes feel outside of what other people struggle with because I refuse to get swept up into the tiny pain of insignificant details and instead step away without anything to say. I often feel confused and bored by the pettiness where a year ago I would have been entrenched in it and even controlled by it. Instead, I’ll admit, I feel nothing.
Something Matt’s uncle said the day after he passed has stuck with me and probably will echo through my head till the day I die. “The worst thing imaginable has already happened, the rest is just bullshit.” That one sentence has freed me in a way to look at things from a distance, to put space between me and whatever might be upsetting. There will undoubtedly be new pains, new heartbreaks, new reasons to cry, but that was the first and the worst. Nothing will ever compare to it and I got through it. Maybe not with flying colors, not always with grace or kindness or thoughtfulness, but I made it to the other side. Nothing will ever be worse and that has liberated me from the fears that once controlled me and as painful as that lesson was I am thankful for it because I am a different, stronger, and maybe even a better person.
Matt made me a better person without a doubt. He smoothed my sharp edges, brought enlightenment into my life,made me think deeply about how my actions and words affect others, and surrounded me in unconditional love (which I don’t know that I always deserved), and his last lesson was no different. He taught me to let go even if it is the most painful thing in the world because hanging on and being dragged is no way to go through life. Sometimes letting go and free falling is the only option even if it’s terrifying because eventually you will land on your feet.
I am thankful for my dogs (I know that sounds corny). I am thankful that they forced me to have real obligations, to get up an keep a schedule, to look outside of myself and to keep moving. When it was too painful to focus on myself I focused on them, I spent a lot of time making sure their lives were ok, that they were loved. Without them, without the responsibility to them I most likely would have given up quite quickly.
I am thankful for the friends that have come into my life post loss knowing full well that if Matt had never died I would have never spent so much time with them, I would never have developed the relationships with them that I have now. I am so grateful for these people that have brought me a heavy dose of peace and happiness. I am thankful for the time I get with the people I care about. Time is what matters most to me and it is the one thing that people give that they can never get back. Money and things don’t matter, I don’t need you to buy me anything, I don’t need you to spend money on me, give me time and I’ll be your biggest champion and your most loyal fan.
This first year has been tough, it’s sucked in a million different ways but it’s taught me at least two million different lessons. Lessons that I believe have made me a better, stronger, even more caring person. I may not have tolerance for the bullshit but I have a deeper understanding of what’s really important, what really makes life beautiful and worth living, and even a better understanding of who I am because of it.