Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Happy to be Here.

Photo by Melissa Adams.

Photo by Melissa Adams.

It’s been one of those weeks. The up and down roller coaster ride. Good. Bad. With a little bit of random thrown in for good measure. It’s also been one of those weeks that has left me a little bit shaken. Wobbly-kneed and rubber-legged. But grateful. Big time.

It’s easy to be grateful during the good times. Especially when the living is easy. For the good things. All those blessings that we want more of. Happy shiny people all around us. Our dear ones by our side. Full of good health and abundance. Kindness and generosity. Peace love and understanding. The list is endless of all the good things to be thankful for.

But what about the hard times? The sad and tragic days. The difficult seasons of stress, when life feels more like a pressure cooker than a pastoral playground. How do you find gratitude when you feel like giving up? When life is just one super-sized shit show. What about those days when the best you can say is, thanks for nothing? How do you find the place in your spirit where gratefulness and appreciation dwell?

I don’t know.

I do know this. When you have a close call. A brush with death. A collision with calamity. The veil of ambiguity is lifted. You see. With such lucidity. Clarity. And in high definition. At least that’s what happened to me this week.

While driving into work on Thursday morning, I was in an accident with my truck. It happened in an instant. One minute I was stopped at a crosswalk watching the pedestrian at the curb. Then within seconds I was shoved from behind and catapulted into the middle of the intersection.

That woke me up.

I was momentarily stunned by the deafening sound of the truck behind engaging with the rear-end of mine. It sounded worse than it actually was. Once I got my bearings and realized that the only damage was to my truck. No humans were harmed. Everyone involved was alive and kicking. I was grateful.

I am here.  All is well.

Trucks can be repaired. Or replaced. They’re just material things. Temporary impermanent pleasures. Not important in the grand scheme. Humans and all living creatures matter. I’m thankful to have been intimately reminded of the difference.

The young man, who rear-ended the truck, was horrified that he hit me. My heart ached for him. It was just one of those things. He looked away for a second. That’s all it took. Could have happened to anyone. Including me. I’ve had some close calls. We all have. But for the grace of God, goes I. So in our brief exchange, I got well with him, right then and there. On the spot absolution.

I’m grateful for that too.

Truth is, at that moment, my gratitude muscle was in a need of a workout. It had grown complacent. Lazy even. I had said the words “I am grateful” so often, they had grown damn near meaningless. Rather than coming from a sincere place deep within my heart, they rolled off my tongue like liquid gold. By rote. Like rhyming off multiplication tables. They had become a cliched elixir to cover my ass in the spiritual department.

Evolved psychologist, spiritual gurus and preachers advise us to be in a mindful state of constant gratitude, especially if we want to be divinely healthy. Honestly, I thought I was. After all, I am the Queen of Deep. Especially after the year we just had with E and the Big C.  I was spewing words of gratitude like yellow smoke from a factory. I had it down.

Then Thursday morning happened. I am truly grateful to be here. To write this post. To spend a little time with you.

To say thank you.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: We are the Champions.

Ma and Mel surrounded by a sea of cat pillows.

On Halloween night I was driving home from work when I passed a little girl who was out trick-or-treating with her mom.  She was about six years old and dressed as a Princess.  She had a wand in one hand and a pumpkin candy bucket in the other.   It was just the two of them.

The sight of this little girl brought me back to another little girl, another Halloween night.  My daughter Mel was about the same age when she too dressed as a Princess for Halloween.  That night, we visited Ma at my sister’s place where she was staying at the time.  Ma was on the doorstep of death by then.  She was tired but uncomplaining.  As sweet as the candy being given.

I took this picture of Mel and Ma on my sister’s white couch surrounded by a sea of cat pillows.  It would be Ma’s last Halloween.  A few months later it would be her last Christmas.  Last New Year’s.  Last everything.  She would not see another Valentine’s Day.  The Old Man’s Sweet Heart would be gone by then.

The vision of that little Princess released a flood of tears. I longed for Ma.  And my own little Princess Mel.  I longed for all the little girl Halloweens where we walked the rainy streets while she collected her bucket of treats.  All gone.

As I drove down the road, the divine and powerful voice of the beautiful Freddy Mercury filled my truck with We Are The Champions.  Yes we are Freddy, I thought.   Mel, Ma and me.

Forever champions.