On Finding My Gratitude (Even When It’s Hard)
I spent the final hours of Memorial Day sitting up in bed, my laptop balanced on my legs, and my husband sleeping soundly by my side.
My cheeks were soaked in tears.
And for the first time in what had felt like forever, they were tears of immense joy and gratitude.
At first I was unable to sleep, for the usual reasons. Pain. Worries. Fear. More pain. So I did what I usually do. I browsed online. And I found the most amazing, the most beautiful, the most inspiring, the most human thing I have ever discovered.
I discovered Soulumination.
For my friends not yet in the know, Soulumination is an organization that provides professional photography services free of charge to families touched by the pain and tragedy of terminal illness. In the beginning, services were offered as a loving gesture to parents wishing to preserve memories, as they prepared for the impending loss of a sick child. Some of Soulumination’s subjects are only babies who pass mere hours after coming into this world. I think about that, how a living being, a sweet soul, only lives two hours, maybe three, after being born. Hours. The time is takes for me to go to a movie. Or meet a friend for coffee. Or go shopping with my mom.
The thought literally leaves me speechless.
Some Soulumination families have more time with their children, even years, but always in the shadow of illness. Some children do recover. Soulumination has expanded their work to include adults with life threatening illnesses, photographing them with their young children, to offer solace, hope, peace, and the chance to capture memories.
It’s just such a special, wonderful thing, and the message is clear.
Life is a gift; worthy of our love, our embrace, our celebration.
I spent close to an hour on the Soulumination website that night. My throat was impossibly heavy. I couldn’t stop my tears, no matter how hard I tried. Our sliding glass door was open, and I could hear a gentle, unseasonable rain fall outside. I closed my eyes, so grateful for the sound of it, the smell, that cozy feeling that only rain can give me. I got up out of bed and stepped outside. I opened my arms wide, looked up at the black, wet sky and thanked God for my life.
I thanked God for everything.
The next morning I awakened to a warmth and peace in my heart that had been missing for a very long time. Illness, and other challenges in life, really do have a way of getting me off track, distancing me from that place of gratitude and that love for life I should feel and know all the time. But I’m human. I hurt. I get scared. I get angry. I think the important thing is keeping my mind and heart open to the signs that are all around; those gifts, those beautiful things that pop up when we need them most, reminding us of exactly how blessed we truly are.
I don’t want them to ever pass me by.
I stepped outside again, this time into the glorious morning, the remnants of that pleasant nighttime rain all around, but slowly disappearing with the heat of the rising sun. I walked around as I always do, breathing deep, taking in the different textures and hues of my garden. My tropical canna lilies called to me; pops of color and the delicate softness of their petals covered in raindrops. With the relentless heat of summer upon us, I don’t know when I will get to experience it again.
But I experienced it.
And I’m here.
Blessed and grateful.
Have an amazing week, friends. May it be filled with lots of light, love, and the kind of beauty and moments that remind you of just how awesome this life truly is.
For more information on Soulumination, their amazing work and equally amazing message, visit: