Yesterday I fell into what can be best described as the abyss of gloom and despair that so often afflicts many of us at this time of the year. I don't know if it's the rapidly shortening days that are turning early evening into an inky darkness much too soon or if it's my own special brand of contrary curmudgeonliness, but I seldom feel overwhelmed with a proper sense of gratitude on or about Thanksgiving Day.
In better times I might have simply sighed and conceded that, well, at least I have my health. But that's a hard thing to do when you're undergoing chemotherapy for esophageal cancer and although things are going as well as can be expected, it's hard to be optimistic about one's longevity under the circumstances. I am on the brink of yet another brush with death and as such it becomes increasingly difficult to see the brighter side of life.
Needless to say, this feeling of impending doom does afflict me from time to time. And yet, amid the cloud of gloom, there comes breaks in those clouds that let in the most amazing rays of sunshine. First and foremost of these amazing breaks is the gift of love, especially the love of my dear wife. It's easy to love someone when everything is going well and all the conditions are right, when disappointment and discouragement are coming at you only minimally. But my wife has loved me unconditionally through some very difficult moments indeed. Almost from the day we were married, my wife has had to live with that part of our wedding vows that mention "for better or worse". Three months after our wedding day I was being wheeled into the cardiac cath lab to undergo an angiogram. And all too often from that moment to this she has had to spend time in the hospital waiting for me to recover from one medical procedure or another.
If poor health was the only discouraging aspect of our time together my wife would be heroine enough, deserving a medal for patience above and beyond the call of wifely duty. But alas, apart from being a physical wreck, it turns out that I've been a fiscal wreck as well. I've come close to losing my house to foreclosure, I've frittered away whatever meager savings I've managed to accumulate and I've totaled two cars in automobile accidents. Through all this my wife's love and devotion has never wavered, always steadfast. This is a gift for which I must be eternally grateful.
I've also been blessed with good friends who have put up with my quirks and idiosyncracies over the years. They pray for me when I'm sick, they encourage me when I'm down and they admonish me when I've got it coming. I'd love to tell you I've been a good friend, as good a friend as my circle of friends and acquaintances deserve, but that really hasn't been true. All too often my friends have been put into the position of being a benefactor to me, demonstrating a greater sense of self-sacrifice than I have ever exhibited towards them. How can you help but be grateful for such a coterie of fine friends?
Finally, I've been blessed with the gift of faith, and heaven only knows I don't deserve it. I pray to God fitfully, usually reciting a set of memorized prayers and not engaging the Lord in a meaningful dialogue. I have not given as much to the poor as I have received in the form of the generosity of others. And I have not lived out the Christian ideal, having verbally expressed my devotion without having lived up to my Christian responsibilities as I ought.
In short, upon reflection, I have MUCH to be thankful for. And yet in moments of trial and tribulation I've allowed myself the luxury of sinking into a convenient state of melancholy, forgetting all the great gifts the Lord has freely and willingly sent my way. I can only hope my literary efforts today can make up in some small way for my many shortcomings as a husband, a friend and as a child of God.
Filed under: Politics