I have always loved lists.
To do lists.
Lists of favorite books, people, places, and foods.
Lists of things I want to own.
Lists of things I want to sell.
So in the spirit of avid list-making, I offer this list of things I am thankful for today. Things that many people, including you, my friends, family members, and readers have done for me, sent to me, held on to for me, and blessed me with.
* artwork and photographs and sketches
* handwritten cards and letters
* mass-produced cards and letters
* poetry and jewelry
* cds of music
* soap and perfume and scented oils and lotions and creams
* candles and incense
* chocolate and flowers
* salad dressing (!)
* meals, so many meals
* recipes and the food produced when those recipes are followed
* invites, e-vites, e-cards, email, and text messages
* Itunes songs, books, magazine subscriptions
* voice mail with words of encouragement, Bible verses, music, and a simple "Hello. Just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you. No need to call me back."
* tickets to basketball and football games
* a shiny, sparkling, fragrant, dust-free house
* comments on the blog and in my email inbox
You have encouraged me to take care of myself, even when I feel most worn out.
You have offered to hold on to hope for me when I could not.
You have sent me phone numbers and website addresses and links to so many helpful, kind-hearted, concerned people.
You have cried with me and for me.
You have laughed with me and at me.
You have told me to write the story down, to tell the tale to all who will listen.
You have read my meandering musings with regularity.
You have reminded me to take deep breaths, vitamin D capsules, and long hot baths.
You have told me to "put that guilt sh*t aside."
You have cursed when I could not. (Why do I still find it so hard to curse!!!???)
You have done research for us and sent articles and dropped things in my mailbox.
You have not let me forget the importance of gratitude, of seeking peace, of prayer, of sleep, of eating well, and of asking for help when I have needed it.
You have invited me to your homes for tea, coffee, food, wine, laughter and tears.
You have shared your secrets with me and allowed me to share a few of mine.
You have brought back to my mind so many great memories and answers to prayer in the past.
You have assured me with great confidence that there are many great moments, days, and years yet to come. That this is the beginning of something new and fabulous.
When those who I thought I could and should be able to rely on turned away, you stepped in and took good care of me, of our family.
When I have expressed my outrage at the behavior of those who have been less than all they could be, you have helped me to release that anger, to grant forgiveness to the offending parties, and to focus on who and what is most important.
You have been my strength and my rock and my hiding place.
You have been the hands and feet of Love.
You have been the word made flesh in my life again.
You have been the fulfillment of many promises for me, for my family.
You have sat with me in silence.
You have screamed and cried out for mercy right along with me.
You have prayed aloud when all I could do was sit in stunned, muted shock.
You have lit candles, worn special jewelry, drunk tea while imagining yourself drinking tea in my kitchen, and sent your best love, chants, thoughts, and prayers our way, over many miles and across many oceans.
One friend wrote, "I won't be a hypocrite and say I will pray for you. I know I won't pray, but I will send my best thoughts and wishes your way." I loved his honesty.
One of you - my amazing nephew Matthew - has flown from NY to Charlotte, not once but twice in the past two months, to show us just how much you love us.
You have been my friends, my supporters, my posse, my mentors, my advocates, my family, my therapists, my listening ears and strong shoulders, buoys on life's stormy sea, co-travelers on this life journey who have carried my heavy load when I could not, lovers of my soul, and much, much more.
Today, on this chilly Thursday morning in Charlotte,
at the end of this list,
this incomplete list of the countless blessings in my life,
this list that has brought tears to my eyes and smiles to my lips,
I say to all of you,
I say to each of you,