What am I thankful for today? Where to start??…
Today, I am thankful for growing up in a small river town, where I forged steadfast friendships that are still among the most important relationships in my life. I am thankful not only for my own family, but for the surrogate families I found in my friends’ families. And I am thankful that after all these years and living hundreds of miles apart, these people come to visit me and gush over my children and we never miss a beat, like we haven’t spent a moment apart.
I am thankful for going to college in an even smaller town, where I spent 4 years on a gorgeous campus with some seriously amazing people. And that when I see those people now, we don’t miss a beat, like we haven’t spent a moment apart. 🙂
I am thankful for opportunities to explore new things, even if they ultimately lead me back home. I am thankful to know myself and my limits, but I am also thankful for experiences that allow me to continue learning about myself.
Today, I am grateful for everyone that stepped up to be there for us when Eli was born. I am thankful for my mom and stepdad, who spent the night in the hospital with me the first night so I wouldn’t be alone. And I’m thankful for the nurses that broke the rules to let them both stay. I’m thankful that on that same day, my dad and his significant other stayed at my house and cleaned it so we wouldn’t come home to a post-Christmas mess, and I am thankful they stayed with us through Eli’s first surgery.
I’m thankful for the friends that brought us food and clothing, toiletries, books, and magazines. I am thankful for their prayers and their company. I am thankful for the strangers that reached out to us–they cooked for us, prayed for us, delivered goodies to our house. More than once, I was moved to tears by the kindness we were shown by so. many. people.
I’m thankful for my sister-in-law for all of her help, especially for all the trips she made from Lexington. I’m thankful that our relationship grew because of this, and that my daughter got to spend so much time with her aunt and cousins. I am thankful for my husband’s mother, who sat with him in the NICU at Good Sam when I was still in recovery. And for his father, who kept him company at Children’s Hospital until I could get there.
I am thankful for my sister, for organizing my house and keeping my mom company during one of the many weeks she spent here while her life was on hold back home. I am thankful that my brother came to visit as soon as he could after coming home from Afghanistan, and for my grandparents, for doting on Eli and Evie both the way only grandparents can do.
I am grateful for the best friend I found later in life, thanks to my job. I am especially thankful that she took my daughter in on Christmas morning so I didn’t have to go through labor totally alone. I am thankful for her family also, as they have opened their hearts to us and made us feel like we’re part of the family too.
For the wonderful doctor that delivered Eli, and my nurse–I am so thankful they celebrated Eli’s life. They dignified and honored his birth. They treated us with compassion. Because of their tenderness, we can remember Eli’s birth as a happy day despite its surprises; we were reassured and comforted and were given hope even in our fear.
I am thankful for my husband for loving our little family so much, for embracing our son immediately with unconditional love just as he did when our daughter was born three-and-a-half years earlier. I am grateful to know he was thinking of me when we spent that first night apart, when he was at Children’s and I was at Good Sam–I will never forget what it felt like to get his message telling me that the mile between us felt more like we were a million miles apart. And I will always remember the night we spent crying together and talking about our fears, holding hands from our side-by-side kangaroo chairs, so thankful to have a private room to get some rest, even if just for one night. And when he hugged me, unexpectedly, so tightly I couldn’t breathe, then leaned down and told me I’m the only one he would want to go through this with–that moment is etched in my heart.
I am thankful to work in a profession rooted in family, for coworkers and administrators that supported my taking more than 5 months off to care for my son. And I am so thankful to have benefits most people couldn’t dream of having–my leave has been paid. All. 5. Months. In full.
I am thankful for my daughter, for having untold resilience through all of this, for loving her brother so much, for making me laugh and showing me the world through a fresh set of eyes. I am thankful for my son for teaching me a new level of love I had no idea existed, for showing the world that Down syndrome is NOT a bad thing.
And I am thankful for Down syndrome. Thanks to my son’s diagnosis, I have had the last 5 months to care for my children, and I have loved every minute of it, even the ones consumed by colostomy bag disasters. Thanks to Down syndrome, I have become part of a “club” I never knew I wanted to be in. I have met the most amazing people and inspiring kids. It’s almost an instant bond, this Down syndrome thing–every family we’ve met has been fantastic. It’s so comforting to know there are other people that “get it.”
And this is just the beginning. I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around how blessed, how fortunate we are. At times, I’ve been compelled to fall to my knees and weep, feeling incredibly humbled by the blessings that have literally been raining down on us.
No doubt about it: life. is. good.