I have found myself counting my blessings even more than usual since 2013 began. Even when times are tough, I try to pay particular to all of the good things I do have in my life and be sure that I am expressing gratitude and thankfulness for those things. There’s been a lot of heaviness in the new year – the loss of my brother-in-law, who had been an enormous influence in my life as well as many deaths throughout the small community I live in, serious illnesses and more – and although the majority had very little close connection to me personally, they affected many people I know and care about in significant ways and I have had a hard time shaking the weight of that sorrow. Too many good people were having too much struggle in their lives, too many awful things were happening and it nagged at me as I tried for months to make sense of it all.
A week or so ago, I learned by chance of yet another death, that of the younger sister of one of my best friends growing up. She was someone I had not seen in more years than I can recall, but still I was stunned. I entered into my workday with imminent tears and as the day progressed, it clung to me. Then that afternoon, tragedy struck at the Boston Marathon in a setting that felt so familiar to me because of earlier experiences in my life.
Like every other online spectator, I was horror-struck, grieving for the casualties and hopeful for all those that had been hurt, hoping against hope that healing would be able to come. We would all soon learn that some injuries were so intense that recovery would be a long journey and so many lives would never be the same again. The sadness of the situation, the disbelief that something so awful could happen at an event so filled with joy and intentionally so, too, was more than I could fathom. Coupled with all that had been weighing so heavily on me to start, I wondered how to move forward from what I was feeling.
It’s almost embarrassing to write this. Nothing terrible had happened to me, yet I felt like I was taking on so much sorrow as a result of what was happening around me and I wasn’t sure what to do with all that I was feeling. The news that night held so many tragic updates and I went to bed with a leaden heart as so many others did.
When I awoke the next morning, the sun was shining. I thought about the sadness I had been feeling and once again considered all of the blessings in my life. I thought about the loss so many were dealing with that morning. More thankful than ever, I thought about what any of us can do in the face of tragedy, when the world is spinning out of control and leaving mayhem in its wake. I realized I could let this weight drag me down or I could show courage and choose to be happy in spite of it all. I could choose to focus on what I could do to provide comfort, to lend aid, to give of myself more and show those I love how much they mean to me, each and every day. I had to let the heaviness go, which is not to say I was choosing not to grieve or feel compassion for those suffering anguish and loss.
There is so much I don’t understand. So much I cannot resolve. I can only do the best I can to be kind, to give what I can to as many as I can, to be appreciative of those around me and to be thankful for the blessings in my life every single day. I choose to be happy.