It probably seems weird for me to say I'm thankful for such a terrible disease, but it's not the disease itself for which I'm thankful. It's the lessons that it has taught me.
I was a daddy's girl up until I hit my teenage years. We butt heads A LOT during those years (everyone says because we're so much alike) and our relationship left much to be desired. Then I moved away for college leaving things as they were. As his health started declining, we lost several close family members, which taught me how much I should truly cherish my loved ones. I moved back home to be closer to my family and help out.
That was before my dad was diagnosed, when we had no idea how serious his condition was. Now, I'm one of his primary caretakers, along with my mother. The opportunity to take care of my father full-time could be seen as a burden, but I choose to look at it as a blessing. The time I get to spend with my dad is something that can never be replaced, and it has brought us much closer than we were before I moved home. I know that regardless of the sacrifices I have to make to take care of him, I will never regret my decision to do so.
I am not sure that I could list all the things I've learned (and am still learning) through this process, but these are a few that stand out the most at the moment.
We take small things for granted, and we shouldn't. I'm talking about things as simple as brushing your own teeth. Things we don't even think about because they're just so normal they don't seem very relevant. It's easy to thank God for new jobs, new cars, and material things. However, when you watch someone lose their ability to be independent day-by-day, it really stresses how important these seemingly small things are. Before this, I never considered that there are people who wake up realizing they can no longer feed or dress themselves. I'm sure my dad would give almost anything to be able to do those things for himself again.
Life itself is a miracle. I'm sure we've all heard "tomorrow is not promised" time and time again, but how many of us can really say that we live every day like we might not wake up tomorrow? I am certain most people don't, including myself. At least, I didn't before this experience. It wasn't until death visited my family multiple times that I truly started to recognize how fragile life is and how quickly it can be taken away. Elements of my father's life slip away on a regular basis. It not only makes me grateful for each day he's still living and able to laugh & talk with me, but it also makes me grateful for each day I am given to wake up - especially with my health and abilities.
Love is not always pretty or easy, but it is always a choice. The world likes to portray love as this perfect, sweet feeling that just yields constant happiness. If something doesn't always make you happy or feel good, it's not really worth it, right? Wrong. Now, I can't say that I ever believed that lie, but I know I did not realize how hard truly loving someone can be either. Love is much more than a feeling, it's actions. It's charity. This is easily one of the most challenging situations I've ever faced. I believe it's worth it though.
My best example of love's ability to look like an ugly, painful choice would be Jesus choosing to die on the cross for his love for the world. I cannot truly claim to be Christian if I'm not willing to try to love like God loves me. I love people so much differently now. I'm less likely to get hung up on petty issues. I would rather cherish who I have, while I have them. And I would encourage you to do the same. Don't let tragic circumstances teach you that.
Thanks for reading & following along as I try to become a more grateful person. I hope each post isn't this hard to write, but I am certain that my readers will get to know me a lot better by the time this is over.
Is there anything you're grateful for that may seem unusual?