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What I Learned

Recently I learned of a 48-year-old father of three who passed away after a long battle with a rare cancer. The same week, I learned of a 35-year-old man who had his third heart attack. If that weren’t bad enough, he was on his honeymoon at the time and the extent of the damage he’s sustained is still unknown.

When we know someone facing a life threatening situation or someone who has lost their battle, we immediately take stock of our good fortune. We vow to take better care of ourselves, and immediately tell those around us how much we care.

We are reminded of what really matters in life.

Then time passes. And the acute awareness of our good fortune loses its immediacy. We get wrapped up in the day to day, the mundane, and even our wishes – perhaps for more. And so the cycle continues until there is another loss.

I was discussing this phenomenon with my boyfriend, as it appeared to me as nothing other than ingratitude. Several years ago his best friend passed away unexpectedly and without apparent cause. He explained that he longed to be (able to be) distracted by the ordinary, if it weren’t that sadness and despair are so great in the face of such tragedy.

He also explained that to move on is not to forget, it is to survive. And to get wrapped up in the routine aspects of life does not (have to) equate to ingratitude.

I’ve experienced many losses – aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins – with only memories and family stories to sustain them.  Looking back I see that moving on is natural not disrespectful, and that to live my day to day is just…life.

But in that life there is room for thanks everyday. So, I remind myself to appreciate each day, mundane or otherwise. Who knows how many we will have.

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