With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I started to think about this past year and the roller coaster ride I call a life. I’ve had great highs and scary lows that have left me numb, sometimes empty, sometimes full, but neither for long.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good that comes our way. But I’ve come to realize that what we have to be most grateful for are the hard times. When we face adversity, we learn a lot about our true nature and the importance of the people that surround us.
Case in point. For the past couple of weeks, my father had his first health scare, his first surgery, and his first brush with the big C. We found out today that the surgery was a success and he’ll be fine. But that 10 day waiting period to get the great news gave us all pause and made us realize how little time we have together. We’ll make the most of it on Thanksgiving. I can assure you that.
Another case. For the past year-plus, my wife has been battling an unknown infection and lupus. We’re at the point where the doctors think radiation is the only cure. Talk about a cure worse than the disease. It’s like watching the person you love most being tortured every second of every day as radiation sears its way through the cells of her entire body. It shows me, daily, how much she means to me, and how little everything else matters if you and the ones you love don’t have the gift of good health.
Looking back at what I’ve written, I saw that this is an overriding fear in almost all my work. In Forest of Shadows, John Backman’s wife dies in her sleep, forever altering his life and his mind. In Evil Eternal, a strong man named Liam watches his wife’s murder and offers his soul to avenge her death, becoming the undead Father Michael. His torment is sealed to go on for infinity. Even in Swamp Monster Massacre, my crazy skunk ape romp, when John’s wife is killed, so is his soul, and soon after, his body. All of these things crept into my work, my conscious mind completely unaware. I’m forcing myself to look into the abyss so I can be grateful that though at times I’m at the precipice, I haven’t fallen through. My wife battles on, and so do I.
In hard times, we turn to others, or God, for strength and support. It’s at these moments where we’re truly thankful for all of the good people and happy moments in our lives.
So this year, when you look back at those moments of hell in your life, don’t ask ‘why me?’ Use them as touchstones and appreciate what they reminded you of, or how they brought you closer to someone, or even changed your life for the better.
Most of all, give thanks.