I remember a party that I went to years ago, and a friend of John's introduced me to some of the people that I didn't know.
"This girl has a charmed life", she said, "She's married to a great man, she's young, she's got it all."
I was a little taken aback. Did I? What I didn't know at the time was that this woman was dealing with her own husband's drug addiction and affair. In that retrospect, I could see how my happy marriage may have been a bit enviable.
For many years Thanksgiving was just another turkey filled holiday. I never really thought about being thankful really, because I had never experienced true hardship. However it eventually came-and then every single marriage vow I had was put to the test. In a span of five years in our marriage, everything that could go wrong, did. John was laid off from work and then became so ill that we almost lost him. We were forced to sell our home. I became injured and couldn't work for about six months. Everything fell apart with Kevin's school and we found ourselves broke and emotionally spent, trying to fight a district that was hell bent on on destroying our child.
I now know what it's like to have to count pennies just to buy a jug of milk, and then have people at work tell you you're 'cheap' when you can't contribute to the staff 'gift fund'.
I know what it's like to pray fervently in an ICU that your husband will live and the terror that grips your heart of the thought of losing him.
I know what it's like to hold a broken child while he sobs, begging you to never make him return to school.
I know what it's like to cry every single day on the way to work, praying that God will give you the wisdom and the courage to stand up and advocate for your child against a system that is emotionally abusing him-even through daunting opposition.
I know what it's like to be in extreme physical pain to where it hurts to even breathe.
I know what it's like to phone family in the most desperate moment of your life and beg for emotional support, and be told that no, they have more important things to do.
I know what it's like to sit at a stoplight in your car and briefly think that if you just turned left while that tractor trailer is coming, it would be over.
On the other hand....
I know what it's like to dance for joy when you, and your husband, each land an amazing job.
I know what it's like to cry from sheer gratitude after an IEP meeting that gives my child every accomodation we ask for-and more
I know what it's like to be understood, listened to, and respected by my son's teachers
I know that the little kindnesses that you do for people come back to you, when friends and aquaintances surprise you with their thoughtfulness and unwavering support.
I know what it's like for our whole family to heal from stress and to finally laugh and have fun again.
I know who my true friends are, who were (and are!) always quick to lend a shoulder, an ear, and a cup of tea-even when they've heard it all before.
I know what it's like to have everything suddenly fall into place so that we find an amazing, brand new house to live in (luck? I don't think so)
I know what it's like to thank God every day for answering every single one of those prayers uttered in desperation so long ago.
....and I know that I have MUCH to be thankful for.