Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Last night I woke in the middle of the night. I felt the warmth and pressure of a cat curled against the back of my knees. I reached down in the dark and stroked Sugar Plum's head, resulting in a vociferous vibration. Another cat lay stretched against my thighs on the other side. I knew better, but like an older sibling who just can't leave well enough alone, I reached down slowly to touch her--and felt her teeth in my hand. She didn't bite down, and I chuckled. Purrl will always remind me that she doesn't appreciate being disturbed when she's sleeping.

The sheets were clean and cool, the pillow soft beneath my head. I lay in the dark, waiting, barely breathing, until I heard the sound that has been the source of comfort many, many times throughout my life in similar midnight wakings--that gentle susurration of a dog's contented sigh. Thomas has his choice most nights of where he wants to sleep. The door to the garage is always open; he has a bed there (where he sleeps when the house is too warm), a bed in the living room (where he sleeps if I have the bedroom window open--because it startles him every time the neighbor snores or coughs or... whatever... in the night) and a bed next to my bed (where he comes to be close when he feels safe). He is never with us when we fall asleep, but he is often there when I wake in the night, and though I cannot see him in the pitch-dark room, I hear the long sigh he emits when I laugh at Purrl or whisper to the cats to move over.

These three amuse me, comfort me, give me a reason to rise every morning early (because how can I not when Sug is poking her foot in my arm wanting food?) and guard me against profound loneliness. I am thankful for them.

Last night, when Thom sighed, I did, too--a long inhalation and exhalation, and I smiled. No wheezing! Nothing rattling around in my lungs. I didn't use my inhaler before I went to bed, but my breathing was clear and easy. I am thankful for that, and I am thankful for my pulmonary doctor who diagnosed my bronchiectasis five years ago and did it cheerfully. ("But you don't have cancer! This is great news!") He is bright and vibrant and funny, and I enjoy our annual talks, which have now become "How's your family?" conversations, because my lungs are behaving despite their disease. And I am thankful for that.

And while I know we live in stressful times with new political turmoil every day, I am thankful for what we have achieved as a society. I am thankful that my gay son can be who he is every day, openly, wherever he is. I am thankful that my transgender friends can be who they were born to be. I am so, so thankful for all the women who've had the courage in recent weeks to come forward and say, 'This happened to me, and it is not okay.' I will always feel proud to have participated in the March for Women this year, to have shown up and participated, even though it's outside my comfort zone to do so, as I know it was for many of the women and men who showed up and marched. Good job, my friends.

I am most thankful that right now, at this moment, all of my children are safe and well. That might not be the case tomorrow, I know; we are given no guarantees in this life. But last night as I lay awake in the middle of the night and did my motherly head count, I smiled to know that all four were safe and well at our last communication. May that trend continue....

I woke this morning (before dawn, of course, thanks to Sug) to brilliant stars overhead, and I took a few minutes outside (while Thomas trotted around, wagging his tail, sniffing out a possum trail) to identify the constellations I know, to allow the magnitude of the Universe to sink in just for a moment (before its enormity overwhelmed me, as it has since my childhood). Then I went back inside to make breakfast for all of us--and aren't we abundantly blessed there as well? The animals chowing down on all the good stuff that comes to them from Petco, and me with my day-greeting Irish breakfast tea and the steel cut oatmeal with raisins and walnuts that bolsters me for those long dog walks once the sun rises.

Oh, and just the walking--that is enough in and of itself to be thankful for. The Sesamoiditis I had a year ago is mostly gone--or relieved enough for me to walk as far as I want with Thom and not even think of it. The torn ligament in my left foot is healed. The SIJD in my right hip has not been an issue of late, so my level of chronic pain is way, way down.

As I write this, it's almost bedtime. The front door is open, and a cool breeze is wafting in. It's time for Thom's Last Chance Outside opportunity. Then he gets his Greenie (his favorite part of the day) and retreats to his garage bed to chew it up and, I hope, contemplate what a good boy he is. The girls have already wandered off to the bedroom; I'll have to relocate someone (gently, if it's Purrl) in order to get in bed with a good book. When I switch off the light, I will resist thinking about what happened in the news today, and I will begin to count again the many blessings in my life. Really, though, they are countless.

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