Monday, November 19, 2007

Moments of Thanks


"You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine."

Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety


Thirteen years ago, just before dinnertime on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, my seven-year old son was hit by a car. Now twenty, he'll be arriving home from college tomorrow; his twenty-one year old brother the next day. We have much for which to be thankful. But that night, for a few moments, I wasn't sure I'd ever breathe a thankful breath again. When the neighbor boy burst into my house, yelling, "Eric just got hit by a car!" my world froze. I wasn't sure I could face what awaited me just outside my front door. Somehow, I propelled myself outside, after tossing the phone to the neighbor and telling him to call 911. When I hit the porch steps I heard my son's cries and I thought, Okay, he's alive. When I knelt by his side, I saw his feet moving and told myself, Okay, he's not paralyzed. And I knew right then we were incredibly lucky. And I was thankful beyond measure.

Later, after the ambulance ride, after the X-rays, after the doctor shook his head and said, just before releasing him, "He's fine. He shouldn't be but he is," I remembered the above Stegner quote. The salt had been just ready to pour down on me, on us, on our life. And then it didn't. But I knew how easily it could have rained down over our world. A different driver. A bigger, faster car. A shift in the trajectory of my son's body as it flew through the air. But, even now, I have to turn my mind away from those awful possibilities.

Our lives are full of such moments, but many times we don't even know it. We don't know what we've narrowly escaped, what's just missed us. And so, for what we know and don't know, I am thankful. For the times the salt didn't pour down and for the strength to continue when it did, I give thanks.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, but even more, I wish you a spirit of thankfulness as you go about your lives everyday.

(Next week, back to posting about writing--and even connecting the Stegner quote to my revisions. But for now, I have a family to start cooking for!)

14 comments:

debra said...

What a lovely, thoughtful and important post. And so true. In the blink of an eye, things can change in ways we'd never imagined. To be grateful for each grain of sand, each moment..... they are all gifts.

Lisa said...

Such a beautiful and important post. And you know I loved Crossing to Safety and Stegner, so I can't wait to read your next post. Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Thanks, Debra. It's so easy to get caught up in things, but so important, to, as you say, be grateful for each moment.

Lisa, yes, isn't it a beautiful; book. I got lost in it again this morning looking for this passage. Thanks for stopping by.

Carleen Brice said...

Thanks, Judy, for sharing this!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your guys!

molly said...

Aw geez ... this didn't happen two weeks ago? I remember it vividly, and yet as a distant memory, We always say "we'e come a long way, baby" and I know it holds true. 8-) I am thankful that our babes have grown and so has our friendship ... the best is yet to come! Am I over my cliche quotient? Hugs to you and every blessed one of those kids gathered around your table this year.

The Writers' Group said...

A coworker was talking just this morning about being a mother, that moment when they are born, even when they are being carried, and you know that they are everything from that moment on. Even though you prefaced the story with the timeline, tears jumped to my eyes. A joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Hannah

Therese said...

So wise and so true...

I once witnessed such an accident. I was only 17 at the time but even then my mind was filled with the what-ifs on behalf of the boy and his family.

There are so many near-misses, as you say; one of my own came when my oldest was a toddler and almost pushed through a second-story window screen when he fell against it (very low window in a very old house). I think I didn't sleep for a week, replaying that one in my mind in every quiet moment.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours--with no salt except what goes on the food. :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Carleen, I have a hunch I know some of the things you're thankful for this year--enjoy every moment of it . . .

Oh, Miss Molly, it does seem like yesterday--but what good years we've had in the interim, huh? Hugs right back at you.

Hannah, you can't imagine how you'll feel until you have them, and then you can't imagine ever not having them. Hug them close!

Therese, I've always been glad I didn't actually see it happen--i don't think I'd ever get that image to go away. And you, with your window "almost"--so glad it didn't happen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Janet said...

I was thinking about that just yesterday - the close calls I've had, my kids have had - and how grateful we should all be just to be alive. Very touching anecdote.

Sustenance Scout said...

Judy, when I was four I was the kid hit by a car who was lucky to survive with just a broken leg. I still don't know how my mother survived that and all the other adventures inherent in raising a big family. She and my dad are now in their 70s, still living in the same house as way back then. I'm sure your boys are just as grateful for you as I am for my beloved parents. Thanks for the memorable reminder to count every blessing during our busy and often frantic days. I'm off to hug my kids now. :) K.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Janet, thanks so much for stopping by; I'm so glad my story resonated with you.

SS--your poor mom! Glad to have you stop by!

Melanie Lynne Hauser said...

Thank you for this, Judy, for reminding us to be grateful for every good thing, especially those we take for granted. And I hope you're enjoying cooking for your family! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Writers' Group said...

It took me a bit to respond to this, it simply took my breath away. How utterly terrifying. Thanks to all that's good he was fine, blessedly safe. What a special Thanksgiving that must have been.

Amy

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Melanie-I spent the day cooking, and then picked up my older son at the airport. Those are some of the best hugs ever!

Amy--It was a special day . . . and every year since, on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, I say an extra prayer of thanks. It's all good.