When we reflect on our blessings this year, at a time when people and places around us are suffering unparalleled grief, loss and tragedy, it’s important to think about the connections that remain in humanity. The other day while walking the dog, I found myself getting irrationally angry about people littering in front of the house. Every day, I find a beer can or Dunkin Donuts cup, sometimes even an empty box, and on this particularly early morning, I tried to get into the mindset about a person who makes the choice to throw garbage out the window. Is it because their parents threw garbage out of the car and that’s all they knew? Is it because they just don’t think about consequences? Then I just stopped myself as that kind of negative thinking is not productive. But then the very next day, a grill flew out of the back of someone’s truck onto the road in front of my house in a bunch of shattered big metal and plastic dangerous pieces. They never came back to pick up the debris. But you know who did? Kim Dunham, our local postmaster, reached out and said, “Heather, I saw your post about the grill. If it is still there tonight, I can stop by and throw it in my truck — take it to the transfer station in the morning.” And she did. Thank you for being kind and helpful, Kim Dunham, of all the kinds of people we can choose to be today.
We’ve been lucky to be a part of a community who has always pulled through for others, especially when we’ve needed it. I could not imagine NOT replying to someone’s request for help or assistance. Call it karma or good faith or just being a good person, but there are helpers out there — everywhere — and I’m increasingly grateful for them with each passing year. Despite November being Family Caregivers Month, it is essentially the gratitude leading up to Thanksgiving, my most favorite of all holidays. Being a caregiver is just being a good person — stepping in when and where help is needed. That may come in the form of hooking people up virtually with information and previous experience (Thank you immensely Reeve Connect and contributors for bringing this community forum to fruition); this may come in the form of actual humans (thank you to our people); this help may also come in the form of our words through our questions and responses and dialogue that relates the world of spinal cord injury to that of so many others — aging parents, chronic illness or injury, childhood diseases, accidents, etc.
Sometimes we need to take breaks. Take them.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of our limitations. Listen to our bodies. Says the woman whose foot remains in a boot with a stress fracture that doesn’t seem to be healing…
Sometimes we need help. Let people help.
Sometimes we can help others. So help where we can.
Always we need humor. Find the humor or be someone else’s humor.
Remember always that “this too shall pass even when life utterly may be sucking the life from you in the moment.”
No matter how hard the day, remind yourself at the end of each one to count the blessings which remain. And if the word blessing is too religious, keep track of the moments that were helpful; or when you laughed or made someone laugh; or when you helped someone else or they helped you — all of it counts. All of it makes life better, even in despair, tragedy and sadness.
Just this week, a woman who is C5/6 wheelchair user and also pregnant with twins, sent me a Facebook message. In researching possible ways to transport newborns safely from a wheelchair, an older blog of mine popped up with tools we used when our kids were babies. She asked for more information. Not only could I direct her to another wheelchairing mom, but that mom had so many more tools and “tricks of babyhood” available to her than we did even less than a decade okay. So now I’m part of this email exchange between these coast-to-coast women sharing knowledge and questions and experience which are in fact, actually, very helpful. Included is a screenshot of some of their dialogue so that others may benefit. Only takes a minute to make a difference. Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours.
Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer-wife-teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 9 and 8. Please check out her novel True North, Facebook Page, and Twitter.