Right after my dad died in the spring of 2002, Celine Dion released an album called A New Day Has Come, and one of the hit songs was called "I'm Alive." The song took on a whole new meaning after my dad's funeral, as I realized how fragile life can be, and found myself appreciating the gift of life in a way I was not capable of before.
I heard the song yesterday, for the first time in years, and in my memory I was brought back to my bedroom in the first house Jason and I bought in Langley, BC on a hot summer day. I was newly pregnant with Ava, and through the initial grief and shock of my dad's death, and I remember dancing to the song with the kind of riotous joy which visits us infrequently but makes an impact that lasts forever. I experienced the sheer delight of being alive, and glimpsing my future and feeling excited by what it would bring, and possessing the unshakeable certainty that everything was going to work out in the end.
Looking back, I see how far I have come, but also that I was right to feel that kind of optimism. So many good things have happened to me in life, and they were easy for me where they have been so hard for others. Getting pregnant, for one, and carrying two babies to term. Having the privilege of steady employment, for myself and for Jason, which led to owning our own homes, and eventually financial stability. Our two children have been healthy, and so have we, and we have not done anything specific to deserve these kinds of blessings.
These reflections remind me to be more appreciative of what I have been given. It takes a lot of time and energy to be negative, and I've wasted a lot of those resources over the years complaining about minor inconveniences instead of focusing on the wonderful things which are right in front me. Life is good, and most importantly, we are alive and healthy enough to enjoy it. The rest must be forgotten. I don't want to dwell on what I'm missing, but rather on what I possess, and the material things are the least important possessions I have.
Getting older helps with this sense of gratitude. My vision has sharpened up over the last few years (metaphorically if not physically), and hitting my mid-thirties made me understand how fast time passes us, and how important it is to make our moments, days and years count for something. Doing what I've always dreamed of doing with my life helps me in that quest for joy, but I also recognize how important my family and friends are, and how investing in them is something which will last forever.
For today, I am alive. I have the present to embrace, the future to anticipate, and the past to remember. I am not starving, or homeless, or sick. I am not friendless or alone. I have so much, and would prefer to be overwhelmed with gratitude and love instead of negativity and fear. Step by step, I am moving toward the person I want to be and the life I want to live, and it feels so good to enjoy this life while I am here to live it.