Continuing on with 365 Days of Thankful -- On my 68th day, I'm stepping out of thankful and sliding into grateful.
Today is Kyle's 18th birthday. My oldest, my miracle, my reminder that there is always, always something to be thankful for.
Gratitude pours from my soul when I look up into his handsome face and wrap my arms around him. I squeeze him tight, close my eyes, and remember that day more than seven years ago when I almost lost him.
Not only does January 28th mark his passage into to adulthood, but this very special day celebrates his passage through life.
That old saying -- You don't know what you've got until it's gone -- meant little to me until Kyle was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004. At the risk of being called out as a bad mother, I'm going to admit to not taking the time to look at my kids in a snapshot moment and think I'm so lucky to have them here with me now.
I was too busy changing diapers and tackling laundry while they fought over pieces of lint in the dryer and who got the last Popsicle. As mom to three, I've donned hats I'd never expected to wear -- good cop/bad cop, referee, laundress, maid, cook, counselor, cheerleader, bathroom instructor, teacher, math whiz, librarian, chauffeur, zoo keeper, pastry chef, finder of all things lost, and finally
It was that last hat that jolted me out of my complacent stupor and pointed the way to gratitude. I'd always taken our health forgranted. Up until Kyle's diagnosis, the worst illness in our house had been strep throat.
One day when we weren't looking, leukemia squealed around the corner in an ugly black hearse, tried to steal my child, and drove us so far out of our comfort zone, we doubted we'd ever find our way back.
And what was there to be thankful for in all that?
You'd be surprised.
Pain-free days, hours, minutes. Food that stayed down. A pound gained rather than lost. Friends that still came over. Meals at the kitchen table instead of in the hospital. The last day of radiation. The month chemo dropped from three times a week to once. Drugs that placated a rolling stomach. Words that soothed an angry child. Hair grown out, not lost. A marriage that didn't quite fall off the edge. Grandparents that filled the hours. PlayStation that provided distraction. Books that killed the wee hours of the night and helped deal with twenty-seven days of insomnia. Olive Garden bread sticks and Red Lobster garlic rolls. The month we hit maintenance. The year we crossed the finish line. The annual appointments with clean blood tests. The scrawny bald boy who now towers over me tall and proud -- his heart and faith forever changed.
I am so proud of the journey Kyle has walked, the strong relationship he's built with the Lord, and the man he's become. There is always, always something to be thankful for.
You never know when you might find yourself on my list!
Our family in 2005
Kyle and Michael Young
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About Lori Freeland
Lori Freeland, a freelance writer from the Dallas area, holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her other life, the one BK—before kids—she has worked as a social worker and a certified dyslexic reading tutor. Currently, she embraces her status as full-time homeschool mom to three awesome children. Her big dream? Becoming a Young Adult novelist, a goal she diligently pursues during the wee hours of the morning with help from a very large mug of coffee and occasionally some chocolate-covered peanuts. In addition to blogging and contributing regular inspirational articles to Crosswalk.com, The Christian Pulse, and Believe.com, she loves to mentor new writers and encourage people to share their life stories. As a member of the Cancer Mom club, she desires to connect with others in hopes of giving support to those struggling down the messy paths of life. You can find her hanging with the North Texas Christian Writers as a Critique Group Leader and Writing Coach or cheering on her writers on the Faith Team at The Christian Pulse where she recently took on the role of editor. She also loves to attend Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators meetings where she has begun a critique workshop for new writers. You can visit her website at LAFREELAND.COM.
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