My phone dings. Normally I don’t look while in the car, but I am at a red light. It’s an old friend delivering some terrible news. Her 14-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with cancer. I pull over as tears spring to my eyes blurring the roadway. I am filled with sadness and concern for her and him.
My Facebook feed fills with tributes for a high school classmate I’ve played with since childhood, suddenly taken in a car accident—her life cut very short—leaving her young family without a mother and wife.
Recently, driving on our windy country back roads, the one I take to and from our kids school daily, an overturned car halts me. I get out to see the cars ahead me already on their cell phones calling for help and someone kneeling by a woman’s side. The driver, having lost control as she swerved to avoid a deer, hit a tree and is lying next to her overturned car. I hear the ambulance barreling towards us behind me. Hopefully she will be okay, I think to myself. Tears well up in my eyes. An extra few seconds at the grocery store and that could have been me. Quite frequently, I think that could have been me or someone I love. Just a twist and turn of life and everything can be different. Every day is basically a roll of the dice and every day that all is well should be celebrated as a blessing.
Often things like these cause us to stop and realize how fragile life truly is. I think that sometimes out of fear we don’t imagine such terrible things can happen. Oddly, we often take for granted the very people that mean everything to us. Loss and experience with tragedy usually causes us to cling closer and appreciate more.
Gratitude. As I have grown older there isn’t anything, I think, that is more important than gratitude—showing it, feeling it, and embodying it. There are so many things we can show gratitude for: resources, connections, experiences, and health. Expressing gratitude in our relationships, for me, is by far the most important.
How long has it been since you have looked your daughter or son in the eyes and told them how much they mean to you and what you appreciate about them? How about your mom or dad or siblings if you have them? What about your employees or friends? Showing gratitude is often overlooked and yet so incredibly powerful. Isn’t it amazing when someone express thanks for you? Unlike things, expressing gratitude is like giving someone a priceless gift that stays with them forever.
Recently, I have taken to randomly showing those I love how much they mean to me with phone calls and texts on ordinary, unremarkable Wednesdays. Especially, I make sure to do this with my husband. I will let him how much I appreciate his hard work, the way he rubbed my shoulders the night before, how he cleaned up after dinner, how me makes me laugh, or any number of the little things he does that makes me feel loved and cared for. I point out the many different ways that my life and our life as a family, is that much better with him by my side. I do the same for my kids.
Our girls just left for camp and I find myself missing them fiercly. There is a blanket of quiet hovering over my house now—it was soothing and relaxing at first, but there is this emptiness now. I think to myself how much I love the way their music fills the house, their laughter, the dancing in the kitchen and the life they bring into our home. Even the bickering—ok, I really don’t miss the bickering between them but, I know for sure my life would be entirely different without their beautiful little souls. I am blessed to have them. I am so incredibly filled with gratitude for my family.
Look at your life. Who can you show gratitude for? Don’t waste another second. Show them. Watch, it will be a game changer for you and for those you love. I promise.