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the grateful list

November 24, 2009

This may be the season when the country stops to reflect on what they are thankful for, but gratitude has been a reoccurring theme over the last five months of my life.  It’s easy to get caught up in the drudgery of every day trials, woes, frustrations and disappointments.  But rather than giving in to the usual whining, venting and complaining, I think of one thing and it brings me back to reality: my sister.

If anyone has the right to host a pity party it is Rosario.  After all, her life was altered abruptly due to the decisions and actions of another person.  She has endured excruciating pain, mental and emotional trauma, eight hours of painstaking surgery, irritating side effects from pain medication, and a tediously long recovery, not to mention she left her life in LA to stay with our parents for the rest of her recovery.  The independent Rose has had to rely on others for her most basic needs.  She has never been one to sit on the sidelines, but she has had to watch her friends and family carry on while she is left behind as her body continues to heal. 

Rosario has suffered all of this and much more because of one person’s decision.  And she could be brooding over what she has lost, wallowing in misery, but she has chosen not to.  “It takes to much energy to be bitter,” she has said, “and I need all my energy focused on getting stronger.”  Of course, Rosario still has her difficult moments.  She has mourned the loss of her freedom, independence and way of life, but she has never cried out “Woe is me!” or even asked “Why me?!” 

Instead, Rose has embraced her cross, and whenever she is tempted to slide down the slippery slope of resentment and into the grimy slop of self-pity that pools at the bottom, she pulls out her Grateful List, which starts with “I’m grateful to be alive!”

It goes on from there:

I’m grateful my injuries weren’t worse.

I’m grateful I’m here and not in the hospital.

I’m grateful I’m not on a feeding tube.

I’m grateful for my family who has been taking care of me.

I’m grateful for my friends and their prayers.

I’m grateful for everyone who has generously donated to my emergency fund.

I’m grateful for the thousands of people praying for me.

I’m grateful for the doctors and surgeons who helped save my life.

I’m grateful for the detectives and police who have worked on my case.

The list could go on for a while, and rightly so.  Our whole family has a lot to be grateful for this year.  Each of us were and continue to be impacted by Rosario’s experience.  God’s grace and blessings have been abundant.  We have nothing to complain about.  Even if we do have a frustrating moment and start to whine, Rose is quick to remind us, with a nonchalant shrug of her shoulder, “It could be worse: you could have a bullet in your chest!” 

 That’s all it takes to bring us back to reality.  We are reminded, in that one sentence, how precious each moment is and that we should not waste it complaining about trivial matters.  We should, instead, reflect on our own Grateful List.

At the GR Marathon

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