Gratitude

It’s been a while. Four months to be exact. I actually wasn’t going to post anything because I didn’t feel like the time was right. But, after taking some time to reflect, I realized that sharing my experiences/emotions through written words could help me cope. I mean, it always has before.

If you didn’t know this already, life hasn’t been easy for my family and I these past few months. Well, two years if you want to get technical. In November of 2014, my father suffered his first stroke, which resulted in the left side of his body being paralyzed. With therapy, he was able to recover, and live life as fully as he could. But then, towards the end of January 2016, things began to deteriorate again:

Winter Storm Jonas had swept through the streets of New York, and overnight, over 25 inches of snow had accumulated in our area. The roads were not safe for driving, and we were told to stay indoors until the mess could be dealt with. If you know how brutal the American Northeast could be during the Winter, then you know how hard it would be for things to get going once the snow came to a halt.

The next day, I woke up bright and early to shovel my way through the powdery aftermath of the storm. Nothing seemed right that morning, but we went on with our lives because that’s what we had become accustomed to doing.

He didn’t feel well.

He was emotional, dizzy, and lethargic–a trifecta that only signaled trouble. He didn’t want us to panic, either. Maybe that’s why he told us not to call an ambulance. Maybe that’s why he asked for our help to walk into another room–after he felt like he couldn’t do it on his own. Maybe that’s why I carried on shoveling the snow out of our driveway–because it was time for breakfast, and everything was just FINE. 

Fine. What a stupid word. No one was fine. We’re still not “fine”. But the word gets thrown around so much that being “just fine” has become our reality.

I mean, we didn’t think it could happen again. Yes, there was a possibility, but he was just beginning to recover. He was learning to walk with a brace, so he didn’t have to walk with a cane. He was learning how to portion his meals, so he didn’t have to prick his fingers with needles every few hours to check his blood-sugar levels. He was trying to venture out, and try new things. But most importantly, he was learning to live life normally again, and that’s what really mattered.

His slurred speech was what threw us off. We knew that he was suffering from another stroke, but it took us a while to process what was going on. By the time we got to our nearest hospital, his voice had become a soft whisper, and the nightmare of another relapse had become reality.

Relax. 

That’s what I told him to do, but honestly, I was actually just try to reassure myself.

How could this happen again? 

Why couldn’t I have called an ambulance earlier? 

What if I HAD called an ambulance earlier? Then what?

What if he can’t recover this time?

I wonder how mom’s holding up.

I hope Zara’s O.K.

My thoughts. My feelings.

My head felt heavy, and I couldn’t think straight.

Focus. 

That’s what I tried to do then, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do ever since. Focus on my school work, even though my family is suffering from the absence of a husband/father. Focus on my dad so that he can recover as much as he can. Focus on the rest of my family, so that they know they’re not alone. Just focus.

It’s easier said than done, honestly. But, recently, I came to a realization: I’ve been focusing on the wrong things this entire time.

The recent negative energy in my life has not only clouded my judgement, but it has distracted me from concentrating on the important things in my life. It has pushed me away from the people who genuinely care about my well-being. When my dad first got sick, I felt empty. Hollow. I stopped writing, I stopped talking to my friends, and I wanted to be alone. All. The. Time. It was easier this way, because whenever I did talk to any of my friends or family members, the first thing that they would ask me about was my dad’s health. And I didn’t want to answer their questions, because it reminded me of the struggles we were facing at home. I mean, what did they want to hear?

Did they want to know about how he could not eat or drink through his mouth because the doctors were afraid that he would aspirate?

Did they want to know about the tube that they had to attach to his stomach so that he could get his nutrients a different way?

Did they want to know about how he could no longer stand, walk, or move?

Did they want to know about his depression? His sudden bursts of uncontrollable crying and laughter?

Would YOU want to answer these questions? 

All of it was really hard. And my ability to concentrate on the good in my life had disappeared. I did not know what to do, I kept pushing people away, and I refused to get help. And this went on for weeksuntil it hit me.

I don’t exactly know what it was, but I remember just how I felt as wind sawed at my clothes while I stood facing the New York Harbor, alone. It took me a walk through Battery Park, and a few breaths of the cold, invigorating air by the waterfront to make me realize that if I didn’t stop focusing on the negative aspects of my life, I would lose everything.

And that was that. It’s been difficult, but I’ve been trying.

Attempting to focus on the good in my life. Focusing on the things that I do have, as opposed to the things that I’ve lost. Focusing on my health and well-being. Focusing on school, focusing on God, focusing on how to live a healthy life for my family, while my father was trying to recover.

Don’t be ungrateful. Don’t make that mistake, because you will regret it.

(There is actually a section of a Chapter in the Quran about gratefulness that has always struck me. Prophet Abraham describes God’s blessings by stating:

“Who created me, and He [it is who] guides me. And it is He who feeds me and gives me drink. And when I am ill, it is He who cures me; And who will cause me to die and then bring me to life; And who I aspire that He will forgive me my sin on the Day of Recompense.” -Quran 26:78-85, Link)

Being unappreciative will not help you in the long run, and I guess one of the reasons I decided to write this post was to share some adviceto inform you all about how important it is to stay healthy.

We never thought something like this could ever happen to us. We were living life, taking advantage of everything that was given to us, and then it all fell apart.

Be grateful. 

Be grateful because at the end of the day, gratitude is a great virtue.

Struggling with a sick parent is not easy. It is the most difficult thing my family and I have ever had to endure. But it is a part of life, and it has been a period of growth for all of us.

If there’s anything I’d want you all to remember from this post, it’s these few things: 

Enjoy life. Venture out. Have fun. Be happy. Stay healthy. And be grateful. 

Make your life beautiful. You only live once (shoutout to my man Drake), so make living worthwhile. 

I hope everyone has a great Summer. Talk to y’all soon 🙂 
-Sara

P.S. I am always stressed out, so I would like to thank my friends and family for sticking by my side through all of this. ALSO, I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH MY FIRST YEAR OF COLLEGE. I cannot believe that I created my blog the Summer before I started my Freshman year, and now, I’m a Sophomore. It’s mind-blowing. This semester was not easy, and I had a lot on my plate, but I survived (MIRACULOUSLY with a 4.0 GPA). Thank you God.

Another ALSO–my dad came home from the nursing home 2 days ago. He still isn’t able to do much, but please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Your support will only aid in his recovery. Love y’all.

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4 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. So glad you are back to writing! And I took care of my dad when he was ill, so I can talk about feeding tubes and all that kind of stuff, no problem. If you ever want to talk, just holler! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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