In the days before Thanksgiving, social media features “Thankful For” messages and images. As we prepare for the inundation of TV ads promoting everything from chocolate diamonds to the purchase of a new Lexus for that ‘special someone,’ Thanksgiving has always seemed the simple holiday where you gather with friends and loved ones and just spend time eating and talking. However, in the wake of the loss of a friend of mine to a horrible battle with cancer, my first thought that comes to mind is deep gratitude for my Health. And I stall there.
Things are different today, with this loss so fresh. Facebook featured photos and tributes to her yesterday which made me smile and cry at the same time. And as the Rain concludes its day of cleansing my view and the sun can be seen from my window-filled room, the moments in my life in which I give thanks play like the iTunes photo library which somehow automatically begins on my PC without any direction from me.
I find gratitude in the littlest moments that many may overlook or take for granted. Of course, I am grateful for my Family and Friends. And my Faith. These three Fs define me. They are my rock and source of strength on good days and bad. But see, that’s something that I recognize … sometimes the greatest moments came about with a mix of grey or darkness alongside.
Life is a blend of these things. It’s not all Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice. It’s complicated and messy. And the things I am most grateful for and treasure most are like a blend of sparkly white snow with dead fall leaves intermixed into their drifts.
I am grateful for my Cat … well, Paige’s cat who shares her time and love with me too. Ellie wakes me around 6:28am daily. She snuggles at my feet each night and utters her soft morning purr to tell me it’s time to rise and shine. To be honest, I’m so used to this morning ritual that I’m conditioned to wake up moments before that purr-alarm. I look forward to our morning snuggle.
I am grateful for my Theatre moments. So many come to mind … I’ve had a Bountiful stage career so far. I’m grateful for moments on the Mountain, in the Rabbit Hole, at the Piano and on the Footbridge. All night cast parties and even the rough go in the ER, which showed me how much love comes from a theatre family. I’m grateful for a voice teacher who helped me believe in myself and Charles Dickens, who didn’t finish one of his books and brought me Moonfall and a love story that shaped my life. I’m grateful for Oscar Wilde and a few brilliant farces that gave me fun costumes and introduced me to new friends with staying power. I’m grateful to cake wars and a clever director with a vision and hope for a little story. I’m doubly grateful for a Hat Shop and some Drowsy moments. And for I’m grateful for a poem written once upon a time that captured a journey. I’m grateful that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed up in your philosophy. And I’m grateful that Shakespeare and theatre have touched not only my own life, but my kids lives — altering them is such incredible and awesome ways.
Perhaps most importantly, I’m grateful to all the friends I met on the stage … princes and husbands, girlfriends, cousins and directors, sisters, fairy tale characters and children of my heart. People who’ve come and gone, but left footprints on my soul and those that are still around and sharing life off the stage with me.
I’m grateful for my husband’s amazing voice — which so many people have been able to enjoy — and the devotion he shares not only with his family but with the Swim Team and Boy Scouts. I’m grateful for his cooking talents, his tech support and his love, patience and encouragement. And I’m grateful his Lions have won a few games this year!
I’m grateful for the people who touch the minds and hearts of my kids … a lovely girl who shares time, a love of music and film and a talent for filmmaking with my son. A girl who makes him happy and smile, yet keeps him thinking and on his toes. I’m grateful for a trio of girls who have known each other since kindergarten and are bonded in such a joyful, dramatic way. I’m grateful my daughter found her voice and loves using it. And, I’m grateful for the teachers who shape them and help them discover and celebrate the best of who they are, especially Mr. Conrad, Miss Jen, Miss Claire and Mr Pavlovich.
I’m grateful for good books that take me on adventures, a trip to Disney and “Paris” with a dear friend; phone calls to Chicago that ground me, heal me and make me laugh; long conversations with my sister and brother and the times we spend together; outings with my sol-sister; coffee mornings with my Mom and times on the golf course or talks over beer at Muldoons with my Daddy. I’m grateful for breakfast at Walts with my Mom and Dad and girls nights out — or in the hot tub! I’m grateful for knitting nights and times I tried to learn pool and enjoyed thoughtful conversations. I’m grateful for the friends that were — far away friends or those with whom I’ve parted ways. Like the messy leaves in the snow, they are all part of me and I’m grateful for what we shared.
I’m grateful for Manicures and Mimosas. For Yoga and my instructors, Barre3 workouts that energize me, and Starbucks coffee. I’m grateful for sharpened pencils and blank pages in my journal. Holding hands. Long walks. My essential oils. A bench by the water. For nieces who share their dreams with me. For Alice in Wonderland and my adventurous, explorative nature. For Traverse City trips and walks on the beach. For Boozy-Boozy times and Boat trips. And the photos that remind me of everything past — good, bad, happy, sad, joyful, ugly, broken, healed, big, little …
Life is made up of all this. And as I think of my friend Kelly, who is surely singing in the heavenly chorus and how much she will be missed, I celebrate one special song we sang together.
Years ago, we were in a production called “Sweet & Hot.” Kelly sang all the lovely ballads while I performed the quirky numbers, learning to scat, sing on a bar — literally, and dress up like Lydia the Tattooed Lady. But at the end, we donned these beautiful dresses and sang an Acapella version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow to close the show. It was stunning and brought the audience to their feet every night. We stood together there in a tight arc and shared our love of music. And it was glorious. That is how I will choose to remember a brave, talented, beautiful, loving mother, wife, actress, singer and friend.
She’s over the rainbow now. And we mere mortals are left to dream and explore our philosophies about Heaven and Earth. So, as I enjoy a special Maxwell House Moment with my mom in the coming weeks, I will be grateful for ALL the moments I’ve experienced with some very special people, performing and rehearsing musicals and plays, working on knitting projects and enjoying conversations. I’ll think of a father-daughter dance, a song my husband sang, holding my daughter’s hand as I walked her to school, long-talks and hikes in Ashville with my son, sitting and drinking hot cocoa while I watched the moon on the water as well the goodbyes said and losses experienced this past year, the tears shed and the laughter laughed, a power outage and a college grad party laced with photos and memories of times gone by.
And I’ll be grateful.