Entry #6: On Gratitude

Needless to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve written. The fall months have swirled up and overhead, dried leaves rushing away from me, ungraspable. These months have been a whirlwind of academic rigor in my doctorate program, while the real conquest has been unspoken for. These months my mother has slipped quietly into doctor’s office, the obligatory testings. They count her blood cells and tap out her heartbeat, make sure one is multiplying slowly enough while another beats quick-tempo enough. I remember years ago now, when the doctor explained to us why my mother was subject to constant echocardiograms. Chemotherapy isn’t localized but attacks the whole body, depressing the heart, he had said. At the time, I swore my heart slowed too, depressed by the news. I pictured her strong beating heart then like a tired dog. I pictured the heart that had once brought life to mine. Back then I asked myself the most universal question—how do we cut out those damaging pieces in our life while protecting and not forsaking those most essential life-giving parts? Back then it was a funny puzzle for us to work out, how to keep the best parts of her.

These months we walk unsaddled by the immediate fears that cancer brings. These months there is no screech in the record player, we glide through the hum drum of busy daily monotony, in a premature victory.

It’s funny how quickly gratitude melts into the unchecked privilege of the daily grind. It’s unchecked because we just go, just do. We just fall into our deadlines, our paychecks, our minutiae of life stressors. We just consume, our daily meals our daily news, we are consumed. And through this I try so hard to ask mindfully, what is gratitude, how do I engage my thankfulness? Do I think of cancer often and daily, do I hum a silent morning ohm for motherhood and life? Do I let myself drive full throttle through the streets of daily life, full engagement as the ultimate act of gratefulness? How shall I be grateful for my hushed non-newsy existence these past months, for my mother prattling off Thanksgiving recipes and movies I ought to see and the blessed nag she has honed and crafted in her elder years? I still await the answer.

–I. Kramer

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