My phone dings as I walk, interrupting the mellifluous voice of M.S. Subbulakshmi. I ignore the sound and continue walking. The air is chill and my nose is dripping. In the forty minutes that I take to circle the seventy odd homes that comprise my development, I see no other humans.
I am home, mildly sweaty and grateful to be able to remove my jacket and shoes. My phone dings again. I swipe to open and notice two videos from my daughter’s teacher.
“Five things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving,” starts Pattu and she races through her list featuring cupcakes, iPad and toys. Ammu rocks back and forth on her heels as she collects her thoughts. Her list starts with Unicorns, toys, sisters and mimics Pattu’s list. They both feature friends and family.
I pull up Twitter intent on sharing the five I am grateful for and decide to make a post of it instead. Like my children family tops my list. It includes friends who have called and listened to me bawl over the phone. There are things, however, specific to this year that I have to write about.
The year began with my father in law tripping and breaking his hip in January. In the two months preceding his death, Saathi was able to make multiple trips to stay with and care for him. In March when he was admitted to the hospital, there was enormous peace in knowing he passed on with his sons beside him. The ability to fly halfway across the world in times of need requires more than just money. A workplace that empathizes with the need to put family first, schools that understand the need to pull kids off during the school year to grieve for weeks. Thoughtful cards and notes from people we have known for years. Most of all, the ability to understand death is a passage, a journey from one plane onto another.
Birthdays are always a special time but when they fall right in the few days following a death, it is bittersweet. Much gratitude to young cousins who went out of their way to mark my daughters’ birthday amid all the grieving.
In June this year, I went away by myself for twelve long days to luxuriate in an atmosphere that was filled with books, writing and discussing writing. I met people with whom I connected in ways I cannot hope to with people in my everyday life. I am glad I took the time for myself and I am so very grateful for the people who made it happen – Saathi and Amma.
This summer was filled with filming our day to day lives. The camera followed us as our children woke and kept the gaze on them until they went to bed. Now that the filming is at a pause, I realize what a privilege it is to have a platform to share our story. Despite all my misgivings, I realize this story is for me at age 35, desperate to start a family and stumped without having access to resources. There were plenty of books and media that showed the how-tos but none that showed what came after, none that showed people like me in stories like ours. I am so very grateful to Chithra for investing in our story.
This summer also saw my daughters’ mother Mommy B visit us. After the strangeness of the first day, I was taken aback by how normal it felt to have her around, to know she is family, to know she will be part of my children’s childhood albums, to be able to text and message her the minute I want to share something our daughters did. It is a privilege to have her in our lives and know we are in hers. Also very grateful for the slow but steady progress in relationship with our daughters’ birth father. Someday, I hope we will get to a place where visits are the norm and my children will never have to wonder about their heritage.
In a month, our family will be at a resort surrounded by all of my dad’s siblings and their families for a whole week. One of the hardest things about being an immigrant is the distance that separates families. I am so very grateful for all of us being able to take the time off to do this and have the luxury to afford it.
I love the idea of taking time each year to mull over all the things that have gone right in my world. It provides perspective and reminds me of the perils of lingering in the shadows of all that is not right.
So, what are the few things you are grateful for this year? Please share in the comments if you are comfortable.