On this day of Thanksgiving, I’m thinking about gratitude. Fibromyalgia causes a host of problems both seen and unseen, and my health is often an issue. Many people don’t realize how very grateful I am, however. I have many, many blessings, and even in the midst of my most-recent sorrow, those blessings are readily apparent.

I have a family who loves me. They have stood by me, through thick and thin, even during the times I was thoroughly undeserving. Their unwavery support, has taught me the virtues of hard work, loyalty, love and faith. No matter how many times I fail, I stand up again, and I push on – trying to improve my circumstances. Striving to find a way to make something of myself around the many challenges I face. I would have no place to live, no food to eat, no sense of self, appreciation for values or love without them. I know that. I would be nothing without them, and I am forever grateful.

I am grateful for my many friends. They persist in asking me to do things, no matter how many times I turn them down, complaining that I’m “unwell today”. They never forget me when there’s something fun or important to do. They check in on me when I haven’t been seen for a while, and they never give my place to someone else, even if they don’t see me for a few months. I know that, to them, noone could ever take my place, and I love them for it.

I am grateful for Jim, who never complains about driving me places, and who is always there for me, no matter what. No matter when. He is my rock, and I would never survive without him.

I am grateful for Kathy, without whom I would probably never take my art seriously. She pushes me to explore new things, to push my boundaries, to get out and meet people I wouldn’t normally meet. She is singularly one of the kindest and most nurturing people I’ve ever met.

I am grateful for Therese, who always understands my illness, and never complains when I can’t see her, or when I text at 4am because I’m feeling ill or scared and don’t know what else to do.

I am grateful for Michael who listens to me complain, and never tells me I’m a downer, or negative. Who gently pushes my eyes back to more positive things. He helps me work through the loops in my mind, where I often get stuck.

I am grateful for Chris, who has always been there, even though he’s so far away, and for Sonia his wonderful wife, who has always been a warm and supportive friend. They have protected me, by standing in front of me, and bolstered me, by holding me up from behind.

I’m supremely grateful for Bonnie and Dan, who have been fixtures in my life for more years than I can count, and who always make me feel loved, no matter how far apart we are. They’re never-ending love, and allowing me to be surrogate aunt to their beautiful daughter, has let me feel part of a family when I will probably never be able to have one of my own.

Finally, I am grateful for having-known Mary Sorensen. She was a wonderful, warm woman with a bright spirit, who never flinched at anything and who never let down a friend. I wish that I could have spent more time with her before she passed, but our schedules always seemed to conflict, and the phone calls I kept meaning to make, always seemed to slip by the wayside. I’m grateful that at the last game day, I got to sit and talk to her for a while. She was so proud of me for my weight loss, and kept telling me that I looked great and to “Keep it up, kid!”.

Losing her has wounded me deeply, and I will never get the chance to tell her how much I love and appreciate her. I wish I could rectify that situation, but I can’t. However, she had one last lesson to teach me, and for that, I’m the most grateful of all: she taught me to grab onto today, hold it with both hands, spread love and make sure everyone around me knows how much they matter. I wish I’d had more time to do it for Mary, but I will not fail to do it for everyone else.

So, strangely, although I hurt inside, and my heart is wounded, I’m also incredibly happy and grateful. I think Mary would’ve wanted it that way.