Monday, November 22, 2010


Do you ever start to count up your great, good fortune or stop and think about the vastness of your blessedness and feel like somehow it's too good to be true?  Does it make you feel that your life has been charmed for the past thirty-three years and that, sooner rather than later, your luck is going to run out?  Because I think this way sometimes.

There are people who are fighting cancer, people who are taking care of children who are fighting cancer, people who are losing children to drug overdoses and parents to dementia and spouses to car accidents.  There are people who are going through wretched divorces and people who have lost all their money and people who have no house, no job, no food, no worldly possessions at all.  There are people who want very much to have a baby but can't have one.  There are children who want very much to be loved by a family but don't have one.  There are so many people hurting in so many ways for so many reasons every minute of every day that it boggles the mind.

But none of these things has happened to me.

My parents are alive and healthy.  My grandparents, even.  My children - conceived almost the moment they were wished for - arrived healthy.  I run down the checklist:  strong marriage, happy children, lovely home, loving family, loyal friends, financial security, supportive community, health, strength, food, fortune.  I am so incredibly blessed and lucky, and mostly this fills me with an abiding sense of gratitude and wonder at the goodness of life.

Sometimes, though, it feels the way it feels when you remark to someone that, gee, your kids haven't puked in a pretty long time or, gosh, it's amazing that Jason speeds so much but hasn't ever gotten a ticket.  It feels like, up the sky somewhere, the god of karma is going to wake from his slumber and realize that the scales are all out-of-whack for that one family down there, the one in the brick bungalow.  It feels like a streak of luck that has to come to an end, like a tide that's going to turn, like a reckoning that's due.  It feels like waiting for a kid to wake up puking at midnight, like the flashers of the cop car pulling over a silver Audi on the highway.

It's silly to think this way, I know.  But almost everyone I know, by this age, has been touched in some way by at least some sort of challenge or tragedy, and so I look around and I can't help but wonder how I will cope when it is my turn.  Can't help but wonder when my turn will come.

Sometimes, I want to greedily gather every single person and thing that is near and dear to me and pull them close, wrap them in a shroud of that fluffy white cotton that comes in fancy jewelry cases, make it so nothing bad can ever happen.  Other times, the knowledge of my fortune makes me feel like I should be doing so much more - eleventy billion times more - with my time and resources.  I feel perversely guilty about my good circumstances  - I have done nothing to make my body fertile, nothing to prevent my parent from getting cancer - and the guilt makes me feel like I owe something - Something Big - to society.  But I am not sure this is how the world works, either.

I am not sure that these are the feelings that Thanksgiving is meant to conjure up, but I just want to state for the record that on this late November day when I ran in short sleeves and jumped in puddles with Jemma and practiced saying los colores en Espanol with Annie, I am acutely aware of my many, many blessings.  When circumstances change - tomorrow, next year, next month, in 2018 - I don't want to look back and sigh that I didn't know how good I had it.  I know.  I really do.

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