I was born lucky. I was born with gratitude in my heart. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to chase it some days. Some months. Some years. But inevitably, eventually, I find it, sometimes rather deeply buried in the thicket of life. It is not simple, and I do not take it for granted. Each of us has to wade through the brambles to find gratitude when life has us in a quagmire. My life this year, and the year before, has not been easy. On the eve of Pandemic Thanksgiving Week, I tasked myself with exploring gratitude. Inspired by my friend Kim’s application of points to my texts (for example, “I convinced Mark to shower today!” Her response, “2 points!”), I applied a simple point system to recent events. Can I find things to be thankful for in the depths of 2020?
1. Mark’s handicap parking placard gets us a premium spot wherever we go. +1
2. We are trying not to go anywhere due to the pandemic. -1
3. When I take Mark to Aldi, he perseverates on the carts. He stands at the cart depot while people bring up their carts to return. If they offer, he kindly takes the cart. Then he works to lock it back into place so that he can get the quarter. Usually, he makes $1 before there’s a lull and I can get him to walk back to the car. +1
4. He always is willing to carry up the groceries into the house from the car. +1
5. I have to race to grab the heavy grocery bags (which he is responsible for creating at Aldi) because the doctors want him to lift less than 5 lbs so he doesn’t blow out his brain graft. -1
6. If I ask, Mark will make dinner. +1
7. The last dinner he made was a salad. Lettuce with sliced hamburger pickles, raw cashews, dried lentils, and banana. -1
8. Mark made a pie crust for the quiche I was making for dinner. +1
9. It looked like this: -1
10. I asked Mark if he wanted to watch the Sound of Music. He said he didn’t like the movie. Why not? He said “the children are slaves.” To whom? I asked. “To the prince,” he said. Well, I said, the arc of the story is that it gets better. “The arc of the story is ghostly,” he said. -1
11. I know if I ask Mark to watch the Sound of Music with me, he will. +1
12. Two nights ago, Mark stood up from the couch and headed to the basement stairs. Where are you going, I asked. He ignored me and kept heading downstairs. “Are you going to get a screwdriver?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. I knew from prior experience that this meant he was going to try using a screwdriver to dislodge the “crust” from the healing brain graft out of his nose. -1
13. I now am both stronger and heavier than him. I physically blocked him from getting into the garage. Then I hid the screwdrivers. +1
14. If I ask, Mark will fold the laundry. +1
15. He surprised me by also putting it away. Randomly. In many spaces. And I can’t find my clothes. -1
16. When Mark goes to bed at night, I go with him. At 8 o’clock, we settle in. He falls asleep, his head on my shoulder. +1 million.
17. When he looks at me solemnly and gently strokes my face before he falls asleep, I ask him why. “It helps,” he says. +1 million.
18. Every Sunday morning, he sits next to me on the couch and we drink coffee and wait for the thump of the New York Times landing in the driveway. Once retrieved, I hand him the Review and I locate the Style section. We read silently next to each other. +1 million
19. No one close to us has contracted Covid. +1 million
20. We have food and shelter, and family, friends, and love. +1 million
Is the glass half full or half empty? It’s full enough. That’s all I need for today. And for this week. And for this year.