This year the words encompassing this particular holiday have sounded a little different to me. It’s been a hard year, and I say that all the time, but I don’t say it negatively; I say it because every time I do, I am reminded that my version of a “hard year” is still thankfully mild compared to many, and that either way, I got through it one piece. A necessary ingredient for true gratitude seems to be having the proper perspective. I know first hand that it’s an easy thing to lose. Sometimes life helps us in that department, whether we want it to or not…
I’ve got one more challenge ahead of me after this weekend – I will study for 3 months, on top of working, for a three-day long bar exam that I can hopefully pass on my first try. I’ve spent years fearing and worrying about this exam because I hate tests so much (who doesn’t?!), but something peculiar happened.
I wore myself thin in the spring. We moved, I took four classes instead of three, I finished up my pro bono hours, and I was working full time. I had to give up my bird Enzo, and as if that wasn’t difficult enough, the woman to whom I gave him turned out to be a scam artist and Enzo ended up at a flea market. The fact that I even found out about this in a roundabout way was all very lucky and unlikely.
After some action on my part and the part of others, I recovered Enzo’s belongings from that horrible liar, and got Enzo to a safe and loving home. I called the flea market man and made him cry. A month later, the flea market cohort of this woman had his aviary shut down because he wasn’t treating HIS birds right – all after my frantic communications with the man’s veterinarian lead to an investigation by authorities. Animals may just be animals to some, but there were so many conflicted and heart wrenching feelings that came along with having to give him away. I felt like I was trying to do what was best for him, and then after taking all the precautions I could, he still ended up in harm’s way. The ending of all that was happy, but it was a difficult month and I learned the depth of deceit to which some people will go.
Amidst all those classes and pet drama, I ended up getting in a car wreck, through no fault of my own. I spent my St. Patrick’s day in the hospital, and spent the rest of the weekend nauseous. I spent another month navigating the messy world of auto insurance and car buying all while trying to get through the most demanding semester of my life.
May came, and I felt at peace for the first time all year. Before long, my dog Jenny’s health started to fail, and then came 2.5 months of pain and worry and anticipation. Immediately after she died, I had to take a class every day for 2 weeks straight. It was a tough two weeks, stuck doing group work when I felt like i couldn’t think straight.
After all of that, things started to turn around. School wasn’t overly busy this semester – busy yes, but manageable. As was work. But here I am, with a week of school left, and a big test over the horizon. And I feel okay. Maybe it’s an odd thing to say, but I feel like I must be as thankful for the hard times and bad things that happen in my life, as I am for the good ones. Had I had an easy, smooth sailing year, I would be approaching my next task with the overwhelming fear and dread and negativity I felt about it for the last few years. Instead, compared to the past few months, I am welcoming it and my current status in life with open arms. No classes – coming home from work every night to sit with my books and study – with my boyfriend and pets safe and happy at home with me, and no more struggling at rush hour to get to class and eating dinner at 10 pm – sounds amazing. I have lots to do but overall, the schedule is simpler and life is simpler right now.
The good feelings I feel right now would not be such had I not gone through some much tougher stuff to get here. What felt tough and scary before, now feels manageable compared to the first 7, 8 months of this year. When life gives you perspective, be thankful. Sometimes it’s all you need in life to feel fulfilled once the dust finally settles.
I am not much of a cook but I’ll be making some turkey legs and sides for my immediate family today. Wish me luck! And most of all, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!