Look it. I am painfully aware that I am an over-emotional, sappy, heart-on-my-sleeve, hopelessly romantic and idealistic woman. I like to think it’s part of my charm, but it is probably more like a character flaw. But that’s me. So if you don’t like that part of me, better stop reading now, because I’m all about it on this post.
Watching the afternoon sun shine on the dark, healthy green leaves of the trees in the park just outside my boss’s window and noticing how the light filters through the tree canopy onto the brick sidewalk below, shifting slightly one way…and then the other…as the breeze gently moves each branch, each leaf from side to side; well, it brought on one of my favorite emotions, one that I feel enormously blessed to feel as often as I do.
It’s that heavy chest, heart crushing, warm feeling that fills me so full that I think my heart is swelling and about to burst out of its confines, like when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day and broke the little wire x-ray thingy that evidenced the moment. It’s gratitude, I think. Appreciation for those small moments when God makes me stop and just breathe and absorb what is happening in that instant. There is such joy in those small moments…I think that’s what bliss is.
Rich gives me that feeling so often, sometimes at the most unexpected moments. For instance, last night when his light snoring woke me up and, just as I was about elbow him and tell him to roll the hell over, I stopped and just watched him for a minute, thinking how blessed I am to have this loving handsome husband snoring next to me when so many have nothing but a quiet empty space lying next to them. Or this morning as we kissed goodbye at the garage door; him looking dashing in his light blue shirt and new haircut (and me looking tired and ragged with crazy bed head and a saggy old robe).
Sam taught me just how intense this feeling could become, especially when he gives me unprompted kisses and hugs, or insists that he’s five, or pushes his bottom lip out when Rich or I leave, or when he prays for Papa and Rori and his diapey at night, or when he gives Lena a toy when she’s crying, or when he gets upset if I don’t let him kiss Lena before her morning nap…he crushes me with his sweet, compassionate heart. (Not so much when he’s screaming or hitting Lena with a Nerf baseball bat, but we as mothers don’t dwell on those moments, now do we.)
Lena shocked me by showing me how infinite this emotion is, stretching my heart even further with her gummy smiles (accented by her two bottom teeth sticking up), or splish-splashy bathtub belly laughs, or little hands clapping, or little arms reaching for me, or slobbery kisses on my cheek, or when she dives into my chest for a bear hug, or falls asleep in my arms. (I also choose not to dwell on her sometimes excruciatingly messy diapers or body stiffening temper.)
Another unexpected source of this emotion is my friend, Nichole. It has been difficult for me to create strong friendships as an adult. I’m not sure why. But my friend Nichole is one among few with whom I share this rarity. Her presence in my life has made me a better wife, a better mother – a better person. And her childhood stories can send shivers up my spine, make me laugh until I cry, or haunt me for days after. She’s open and honest, and I sincerely admire her. And the fact that she loves me makes my chest heavy with gratitude.
These things that surround us: our loved ones; music; art; nature; faith; a hard day’s work; making right decisions; helping someone; laughter; compassion…feeling gratitude and appreciation for all these things God offers us is what life is all about or, at the very least, one of the greatest parts of the journey. For those in hard circumstances, I’m certain it’s difficult to see. But even in the midst of our pain, if we notice and give thanks for something as simple as a mourning dove’s song or the sun warming our backs, then all is not lost. Because gratitude brings with it hope and joy and ushers in love and decency and integrity. Think about it – have you ever met a truly grateful person who wasn’t also good and happy?