Expressions of gratitude are whirling everywhere today--on Facebook, email, texts, greeting cards (mail delivery: tomorrow), phone calls, prayers, and whispered wishes of all sorts. We thank our gods, our families, our friends, and the good fortune that permits us to be together, some of us, for yet another year.
Many, of course, are suffering today. They are ill or otherwise unable to do what they love to do. They have endured losses. Their hearts have fractured. They face hard choices and dark futures. For many, hope is merely a strange sound in a foreign tongue. And Black Friday has a very different meaning for many people.
The other night, my mother, 93, fell in her apartment in her retirement complex in Massachusetts. She could not get to her feet and spent the night on the floor, waiting for a health-care worker to find her in the morning. No broken bones. But she is spending today in the hospital in Pittsfield and upon release will have to go to the rehab center, not to her own place. She may never return there. My mom is a tough customer. She is not grateful for any of this. She does not want to be in the condition she's in; she does not want to be where she is. In a very fundamental way, she does not want to be who she is.
She is grateful that two of her sons--Dick and Dave--are there and that she will have some sort of Thanksgiving with some of her family. Perhaps her last.
So I was thinking--perhaps we ought to be grateful today--and every day--not just for what we have but also for what we don't have. Life is precious. Fragile. And for those moments--those few moments--when we are in the sun and smiling and gripping the hands of loved ones we must indeed be grateful. For all can change--will change--in the blink of Time's disinterested eye.