I have written and rewritten this blog post over and over, never quite satisfied with my feeble and insufficient attempts at expressing the emotions filling my heart. I have recently been the recipient of an act of generous kindness for which I feel entirely incapable of communicating my gratitude.
As anyone familiar with this blog knows, this has been a very rough year, filled with some ups and quite a few downs. Life changed very suddenly and, in many respects, I have spent the past twelve months never quite stepping out of survival mode.
When a person is neck-deep in illness, trying to get through life one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, they never get to come up for air.
You run out of energy, so you simply find a way to keep going. You juggle time and resources to get to appointments, to do blood work, to fill your endless list of prescriptions. You struggle to be a good parent when you don’t even feel entirely human. And you do it day after day. It becomes, to a large extent, the whole of your reality because it is so all-consuming.
You run short on money, so you find a way to make ends meet. You cut back on other expenses, all the while praying no new expenses pop up or that you aren’t going to desperately need the money you just spent on something else. You’re holding your breath, just waiting for it all to fall to pieces. And if it doesn't, if you manage to make it work, the relief is almost palpable. Even one household expense away from disaster, you're grateful because you're better off than you could be, better off than you were, and because you know that there are many people who aren't so lucky.
You’re doing all right, but maybe not great. Still, that’s better than where you’ve been. You're moving along, feeling pretty okay with where you're at because you remember all too vividly where you've been.
Then someone reaches out and shows you compassion and kindness in a way that leaves you speechless. You have spent so much time constantly fighting for every little victory. Looking back on your progress, you feel like at least part of the crisis has passed, even though you know it hasn’t entirely. For a time, you don’t even know what to say or do when shown such compassion. There don’t seem to be words adequate to describe your gratitude and that makes you feel so terribly ungrateful.
I recently found myself the recipient of tremendous and overwhelming kindness from the writing community. I don’t know who, exactly, and thus can’t offer the personal thank yous I wish I could. I wish I could tell each of you who were part of this tremendous act of service how much I appreciate the kindness you have shown, how grateful I am for the burden you have lifted, and how utterly humbled I am.
I find myself reflecting on a sentiment I read annually at Christmastime that has added meaning for me this year. From Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol:
“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore... I say, God bless it!”
God bless it, indeed. And God bless those who have eyes that see hidden burdens, ears that hear the silent cries of the downtrodden, and hearts filled with love and generosity.