This week my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with friends listing, day by day, those things they are thankful for. Health. Family. Security. All good and wonderful things, and what a lovely sentiment to take a moment out to acknowledge how fortunate we are to have what we do. I like that.
I think it’s safe for people to assume I am thankful for my family and their health and the nice things I am lucky to have, absolutely. But I think a more interesting question is this: What are you thankful for that you might not have seen as a blessing at the time?
I am thankful for an unpleasant woman who did something horrible to me once, years ago. It took me a very long time to come to that place, because the immediate effect of her action was to make me question what I do and why I do it. It made my unhappy with my work. And ultimately, it gave me the push I needed to get away from a position I was unhappy with for reasons having nothing to do with her and take a big risk making a go at writing. I don’t know if she had never wandered into my life, if I would be emailing my agent to discuss meeting up for coffee in a couple of weeks. That is my ultimate dream, and to think it all might be tied to what I have long thought of as the worst experience of my career. It’s funny how life works, isn’t it?
I am thankful for Kekoa’s death. Don’t get me wrong, I am not thankful that she died, but I am thankful for the manner in which it happened. She had to die at some point, as do we all, and my feelings about that are neutral. But it was a quirk of time and circumstance that I was in need of a home visit veterinarian, and I happened to remember a friend of mine ran such a service. That reconnection gave me a chance to do work I didn’t know I wanted to do, and it has to date been the most emotionally gratifying service of my career. I am also thankful Betsy did not hire me based on my first stab (no pun intended) at placing a butterfly catheter. I got it now.
I am thankful for everyone who trusts me to come into their home and, in essence, end their pet’s life. That is a massive trust and responsibility. I hope I make that experience just a bit easier for them. I hope that when I leave, they are glad they asked me to help.
I am thankful for weird things, holes and shadows and grudges that provide us the counterpoint we need to see the shine and light and vistas that make life beautiful. Thankful for those occasional moments of clarity that pull me out of my daily haze and strike: needlelike and sharp realizations of a truth, soft and melting warmth of an interconnectedness.
Most of all, I am thankful for my irresponsible neighbor who didn’t spay her dog, because without that there would be no childhood dog Taffy and no Dr. V and I might very well be a moderately satisfied podiatrist who, as far as she knows, isn’t a pet person. And if that isn’t a big stretch, I don’t know what is.