Today, I am thinking about gratitude. Earlier this week, I had to take someone to the hospital for surgery. Got up very early in the morning, drove to their house, picked them up. It was dark, and raining, and this person was nervous. I couldn’t blame her, of course, but it was my job to be the peppy one. Optimistic, my voice cheery, even as we drove in a deluge, thunder and lightening all around us. Once there, the rain blew sideways as we headed into the building and checked in. I would not call myself squeamish, necessarily, but hospitals make me nervous, and when they called her name and I accompanied her back to the room where they’d prepare her for the surgery, I could feel my heart beating.

It’s amazing how strong you can be, though, when you have to be. When there is no option to fall apart and Let Someone Else Handle It. I wish I was always able to rise to the occasion the way I did there, in that room, holding her hand. “It’s all going to be fine,” I told her. “The next time we see each other, this will be over. You are so brave.” And then they wheeled her away, and I went back to the waiting room and tried to calm down. For the next two and a half hours, I sat and graded papers while CNN Headline News played over my head, the same news again and again. Terri Shiavo. Michael Jackson. Basketball. Finally the doctor came out and called my name. She was still in her scrubs, her hair covered. “Everything went great,” she said. “She’s going to be fine.” And I felt so relieved.

Later, I sat up in a hospital room, waiting for them to bring her back from recovery. There was a huge window and I sat in front of it, watching the blue sky that had somehow emerged in the last few hours. I was so tired, and as I sat there, I started thinking about the last couple of weeks, and my dog dying, and how it has just felt really hard, in so many ways. I still feel like I’m bumbling around, just trying to get through the day. But then, as I sat there, they wheeled my friend in. She was still kind of out of it, but when she saw me, she reached out her hand, which was shaking slightly, and I took it. That moment, more than anything, I was glad I was there. So glad.

Things can be hard and scary, but you find a way to get through them, especially when you have no other choice. This is just part of living, I guess. As is realizing that you learn from everything, especially the stuff that scares you the most. Because you have no other choice there, either.

Have a good day, everyone…..