I contemplated labeling this my obligatory Thanksgiving post, as I’m sure mine is one of many posts in the blogosphere commenting on the theme of today’s holiday. But in reality, I don’t consider it an obligation because I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the numerous blessings in my life. Despite the ups and downs in my own head, I know that I truly have a lot for which to be thankful. In fact, I often remind myself of this when I fall to those low places.
My siblings have all relocated out of state, so my parents do their best to visit everyone as much as possible. This year they decided to spend Thanksgiving with my two sisters in Florida. They even asked how I felt about spending Thanksgiving in Florida with them. I declined for several reasons, mainly because of the time factor (I live in New York). After declining on Florida, my brother invited me to visit his family in West Virginia. I declined because one of my choirs sings Thanksgiving morning and I felt a sense of obligation (I know, don’t judge). I figured Thanksgiving is really just another day and I would be perfectly fine curled up on my couch after church with some Stove Top stuffing.
Then this week came along. After a very productive, but draining, follow-up with the psychiatrist on Tuesday, I saw a text from my father telling me that my mother was in the emergency room with chest pain. Yesterday morning I got the text that she was going in for a cardiac catheterization. Florida was still out of the question, but I began to re-think West Virginia. Part of me still wanted to just curl up on my couch, but another part of me wanted to be spontaneous (maybe the Celexa is starting to kick in?). To make a long story short, I left work, went home long enough to leave food and water for the animals and pack a duffel bag and hit the road for West Virginia. There were a few times during the drive when I questioned the sanity of my decision, especially through the Poconos in Pennsylvania when I held the steering wheel in a death grip against the snow and strong gusts of wind. But the drive was much easier than I had anticipated. The snow/slush wasn’t fun, but I’ve managed in far worse. Aside from a few small stretches, the traffic was light, even non-existent in some parts. It was as though the universe aligned itself to make this trip as easy as possible.
And then there was the song. Music is a huge part of my life (a topic for another post), and often a source of catharsis. I know I’m a little late to the party, but earlier this year I found myself drawn to the song “Hallelujah.” It wasn’t that I’d never heard the song before, just that for some reason the song started to resonate in me. Last weekend I finally found a copy of Allen Light’s book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.” I know, I know, I could have ordered it online and had it in my hot little hands months ago, but I was holding out on the hope of finding in a store. I finished the book in less than three days. So I just finished this book a few days ago, and as I was driving through the worst of the snow and wind, I was flipping through some of the stations on the satellite radio that I normally skip right over when I stumbled upon Leonard Cohen singing “Hallelujah.” And just like a movie cliché, suddenly the drive was easier and the worst was over. Oddly enough, as I sat down and started writing this post, I heard the song again, on the Pandora station that my brother left playing in his living room.
So today I am thankful for the love and support of my family and friends. I know I’m not always an easy person to love. I’m moody, I get angry, I get depressed. I bottle up my feelings and am often difficult to read. My posts on Facebook are vague and confusing (a fact which drives my mother crazy). But despite all of this, they haven’t given up on me, even when I’ve been ready to give up on myself. And for this, I am truly blessed.