Thanksgiving is just about here. I miss being home with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas too. Since I can’t go home right now, I have to make my own traditions with Jeremy and Raelynn. Doesn’t mean I don’t miss my mom’s awesome meals or hanging out with my dad, watching football and lounging by the pool (which must sound weird if you don't know that I'm from Florida). This month, I’ve noticed so many of my friends posting what they are grateful for each day. I think it’s lovely, but I also think there’s a lot we should be grateful for EVERY day of the year, not just every day this month.
Sure, I piss and moan about my in-laws, but who doesn’t need to vent from time to time? I might not post it every day on Facebook, or on this blog, but each day, I wake up and I think about what I am thankful for.
I’m about to share something very personal with all of you. I have only told a few people about this – my husband, one of my best friends, a friend of mine who’d been going through a rough time, and my boss at work. I had to tell my boss because what I am about to tell you caused me to be quite late to work one day, late last November.
Some of my wonderful friends are going through tough times right now. Without sharing the private matters some of you have confided in me, I will say that I hope this story helps brings you strength and hope and reminds you to never forget to be thankful for what you do have, even when things seem very uncertain and bleak.
One day, late last November…
My driver had picked me up for school. As we turned off my street onto an adjacent one that ran perpendicular to the major road abutting my street, I noticed the traffic on the major road was completely backed up. Right away, I noticed it was worse than the typical morning rush hour mess. I figured there’d been some small accident down the road and I started looking to see if I could figure out how far back all these cars were. That’s when my driver Hu Shufu warned me: “Jenny! Bu kan! Bu kan!” Which means, “Don’t look!” But it was too late. Despite his best efforts to shield me from it, I saw it.
It was an old man, lying dead in the crosswalk. At first, I thought he was just hurt until I saw all the blood coagulated around his head. He was very, very, very dead. I’d never seen a dead person like this. I’d only seen dead people during wakes at funeral homes. I felt like I looked right into the sun. It burned my eyes. It burned into my brain. In those brief moments as my eyes locked on this grisly scene, I saw a policeman deftly prompting other pedestrians to go quickly out of the way as he feverishly took notes from 2 people he didn’t tell to “zou.” On top of that, he was directing the traffic on the other side of the road to keep moving. And then I noticed that there was no car stopped there. Some disgusting excuse of a person hit this poor man and left him to die in the street.
It’s possible the man wasn’t crossing carefully. You should see how they cross streets here sometimes. In some places, there is no choice but to make a run for it between the cars. In this place, there was a crosswalk but no traffic light. You have to go at your own risk and it is very dangerous. Even still, whether the old man crossed carefully or not, he didn’t deserve to be left dead in the street. He was probably somebody’s husband. Father. Grandpa. Friend. He probably got up that morning and went about his typical day, never imagining that it would be his last.
Every day, we have a choice. We can wake up and be thankful we’re alive, even if we are coping with some of the worst shit there is in this world to deal with. Because even in the midst of the worst shit, you still have a chance to come out on top. That old guy will never get a chance again. We can live in fear that we’ll be run over or come to some horrible end, or we can live for today and make every day the best day that we can. Sometimes, I forget this. I’m currently stressing about obtaining a visa for my husband, and wondering what our future in the US, if we can get there, will be like. Will we find jobs? Will we be safe? Will we have a life as good as we have here? We aren’t the richest people but we are very comfortable. I fear we’ll lose that comfort and live sad lives. And then I take a drink from my husband’s infinity pool of optimism. And I realize that we have to try for what we want or else we’ll be left with the ugliness of “what ifs” lining the road of our future.
Fear. It causes us worries and makes us think about all kinds of things that might very well never happen. What we all really need is a huge leap of faith. Fuck that fear. Today, I am here, and if you’re reading this, so are you.That means we've got a chance to go for what we want, to embrace those we love today and be thankful for everything we do have as opposed to being obsessed with what we don't.