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I Bought Gratitude at the Grocery Store

I was wandering the aisles of the store occasionally waking up long enough to wonder how I’d moved from the food section into hardware. I fell asleep again only to then find myself in sporting goods. I was in a daze – a complete fog. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or not – oh please, tell me I’m dreaming I thought. I was getting little snippets of things running through my brain – our daughter, cancer, chemotherapy, surgery. Could this really be happening?

We had just finished a whirlwind of appointments. We met with oncologists and we met with surgeons. A plan had been put in place that meant our only child, our 13-year old daughter Lindsey, would begin chemotherapy for the treatment of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in a matter of days. There wasn’t even time to make the 4 hour trip home to gather our things. Our journey had begun and I was terrified. I was trying to apply my usual logic to something that wasn’t logical. I was lost in fear as I wandered the aisles of that store trying desperately to make sense of it all.

I wandered until I felt I could wander no more. As I pulled my cart into the checkout lane and began t

o load my few items on the belt, I looked up and glanced at the magazines and tabloids. My eyes fixated on the news of Marie Osmond’s son committing suicide. In that instant, my fog lifted. My mind became clear as I thought about the things she’d probably love to tell her son if only she had the chance. I thought about what she might give for just one more hug with her son. And I knew in that moment – I had been given a gift. I had this incredible sense of gratitude knowing that even though the future was uncertain, I had time with my daughter. I didn’t know if that time would be weeks, months, years or a lifetime. All I knew was I had been given the gift of enough time with my daughter to say all those things I wanted to say – the time to truly listen to the things she wanted to say – the time to melt into her hugs and notice everything about how they felt. I had been given the gift of time and the awareness to savor and soak in all the little moments knowing they may not be there forever.

As I became immersed in this intense sense of gratitude, my fear disappeared. It was if someone had flipped a switch – the darkness was gone and I was suddenly standing in the light of gratitude. I played with that switch a lot during the course of Lindsey’s eight months of treatment. I would start to walk in the darkness of fear, sometimes journeying far into the darkness. And then something would take me back to that moment at the checkout stand – that feeling of gratitude and that shift in focus to the many gifts in my life – and I’d be standing in the light once more.

Recently I heard Tony Robbins say it’s impossible to feel gratitude and fear at the same time. I realized that’s it. It really is that simple. Fear simply can’t survive in the light of gratitude.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” – Meister Eckhart

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