The Peace that Comes from Knowing You are Blessed

I’ve been taking stock of my life lately. Well, to be strictly accurate, my life has been taking stock of me. I am not purposely putting my past into perspective, it’s just that I see the horrible things that happen to people, the terrible physical and mental problems that plague them, the struggles they deal with on a regular basis, and I realize my life hasn’t been so bad. And of course, the request for my resume got me to thinking about what I’ve done (and haven’t done) with my life.

I didn’t have an easy time of it. Money was hard to come by no matter how hard we tried (“we” meaning my life mate/soul mate and I). We often lived hand to mouth; turned the thermostat down in the winter to almost unlivable conditions; didn’t oysterhave an air conditioner, which made the summers just as unlivable; bought food only on sale or at the lowest price available; never bought new cars; seldom bought new clothes or shoes.

And yet . . . I didn’t have a hard life, either.

We always managed to get through the winters and summers, had enough to eat (and it was all delicious and healthy since we cooked everything from scratch). We kept our vehicles running, always had plenty of library books around, planted dozens of trees and bushes and watched them grow. And we had each other. Although his dying about killed me, I got to be there with him through it all, and even was privileged to feel profound grief for him after he was gone.

I’ve been healthy more often than I’ve been ill. I’ve suffered bouts of depression at various times in my life, but my happy days outnumbered the sad/depressed ones. I laughed more than I cried, smiled more than I frowned. My mind works. (At least I think I it does. Since it’s my mind telling me that it works, would I know if it wasn’t?) My immune system is chugging along — even my allergy problems are a sign that my immune system is doing what it’s supposed to do. My body mostly does what I ask of it, and seems to have as much — or rather, as little — balance, elasticity, and endurance it always had.

Even my current situation — looking after my 97-year-old father and doing what I can for my dysfunctional brother — is a blessing. I have free time to indulge in blogs such as this, live in a nice area, enjoy being with friends, have the ability to participate in activities such as walking and exercise classes that help keep my body and mind in working order.

At the moment, I have no regrets, feel guilty about nothing, am angry about nothing. I haven’t even had a grief upsurge in a while. (As a matter of fact, the 27th of the month — the day of his death — passed with but the briefest acknowledgment of the date.)

I’m not sure why I’ve been taking stock — maybe getting ready for the next part of my life when I have to start dealing with the negative aspects of aging, when I have to deal with being on my own with no one to love or care for, when all that stretches before me is unchartered territory. Meantime, I’m enjoying the peace that comes with knowing I am blessed.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

6 Responses to “The Peace that Comes from Knowing You are Blessed”

  1. leesis Says:

    this is cool Pat. May I suggest that taking stock and concluding you are blessed is also the final and successful healing of the wound left in you by his absence. The gaping wound is finally closed and though it will always be tender and pain evoked upon certain circumstances life’s value is no longer questioned as once it was if not in so many words. I feel like some ceremony is now required🙂.

    And on top of the healing my friend maybe its about taking stock because there will come a time soon when you are tracking across America thinking your own thoughts, pondering the view and thinking of the amazing folk you’ve met so far…and the scary ones when suddenly your blister on your big toe starts giving you grief…not a old age concern at all🙂. This may be the next part of your life you are getting ready for!!!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      A ceremony. Hmm. Your comment feels like a ceremony, as if I’ve just been given a graduation diploma.

      I think you’re right about my getting ready for the next part of my life. It feels as if I am tying the past in a nice neat bundle, opening myself up to the vastness of the future. There are times when I think an epic walk across America is totally undoable, but the thought remains, as does the reality that when my father is gone, I will be completely untethered. I will have to do something!

  2. Linda Says:

    Pat, what you say is true and I do think about all my blessings in my life which have been many. I was adopted by wonderful parents and the mother who delivered me loved me enough to know I would have a better life with someone else. I did meet her 20 years ago but she had Alzheimers, as did my adoptive mother and then, later, my wonderful husband. My birth story is very special and I was very fortunate. Now I am very close to my birth family with cousins too. Jim and I had a great life, money allowed us to do some special things later in life. When our 3 children were with us we camped a lot and always went to CO. in the summer which we loved. We had a couple favorite spots we camped, Ouray, Taylor Park and Turquoise Lake. Since Jim died 3 years ago I have been able to do some traveling in and out of the country just because I had friends I could stay with while in Australia, New Zealand and Italy. So when I have a pity party I try to count those blessings but the selfish part of me creeps into me when I see other couples together. You have done very well and with still having challenges to deal with, I admire your positive attitude.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Those pity parties are hard to avoid when you see couples together. It’s taken me four years to find the positivity, though I’m sure there will me more times when my heart breaks at the sight of couples.

      Yours sounds like a wonderful story — well, except for the part about Jim’s death. I admire your strength and will to keep going to new places. I’ve come to see that some of the the strongest, most vibrant women in the world are widows.

  3. Mary Says:

    As per usual, Pat, your blog has been a needed salve on a pretty hard day. I’m sitting at my desk at work and I have been crying all day…I had to take a leave of absence from work for a few weeks because I had a PTSD episode. I knew that my employer wouldn’t be pleased but I needed the time – I couldn’t function in an office environment and it hadn’t happened since last year around this time – when the one-year anniversary was coming up. Today was my first day back and I walked in and essentially got demoted (long story). I don’t blame my employer. I know they are trying to cover their bases and I have been in Corporate America long enough to know that this is how the game is played, but I worked very hard for that promotion. I remember very clearly when my soul mate died, the day after he died, sitting with his loved ones and saying that I didn’t know how much longer I could stay on an upward ascent at work because I was never going to see life in the same light again. Being a corporate goddess just didn’t apppeal to me anymore. I remember his father telling me that my soul mate’s death was going to work in wondrous and amazing ways in my life and not understanding how that could possibly be true. I’m sitting here now, having had a good eight hours to absorb that my employer has lost a lot of faith in me, and realize that I could have done the opposite. I could have done what everyone at work wanted me to do and just suck it up. I could have shut down and ignored the pain and focused on work – and continued to climb and climb that ladder, but it wouldn’t have been my authentic self. I have so many things to be thankful for – even maybe this demotion since it will take off a lot of the pressures of people management and public speaking that I just haven’t had the stomach for. Maybe I am blessed that even though it took nearly two years, I finally have a respite of peace to look forward to in the heads-down work that is involved with being an analyst rather than a manager. Oddly enough, my friends all know about it and have been texting me nonstop to congratulate me! I spent the morning feeling like a failure and the afternoon feeling so grateful for my support system at home. And wow – do days like today make me realize how little money means in the grand scheme of things. My pay was cut by 20%, and I will still be blessed enough to live comfortably. Anyway, since today is one of those days that I believe very strongly stems directly from my loss, I wanted to check in with you and your blog -it is like a touchstone for me. Have a great night!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Your soul mate’s father must have lost someone close to him to understand about death working in wondrous ways in your life. In my experience (from what I have experienced personally and from what others have told me they experienced), it takes four years to get to get to the point where you can understand the truth of it. Until then, cripes, there is so much pain and so much collateral damage and additional losses. It really is too much for corporate people to expect you to suck it up and shut down and ignore the pain — the pain belongs to you. It’s important to feel it, to let it work through you, however long that might take (generally three to five years). How wonderful to get congratulations on your demotion. It seems your friends know it will be good for you, though I can understand your feeling of failure. One thing such a grievous loss does for us, sometimes against our will, is to reset our priorities. We can never be the same. The world can never be the same. And yes, you are blessed to have such friends.

      I am glad that you stopped by. It’s always good to touch base with my sisters in sorrow.


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