It was a bad day in the middle of February. It was freezing outside and snow was everywhere. I was tired. I was grieving. All I could focus on was what a mess my world had become. I was not feeling very hopeful about my Brave New Life – in fact, I was just plain missing my Boring Old Life. I remember saying out loud that I just hated every single thing about my life and that I couldn’t think of one single good thing that had happened since I’d lost my husband. And almost as quickly as the words were out of my mouth, I realized what a huge, horrible lie that was.
Because there had been good things. And actually, plenty of them. When stuck in depressed-grief land, it’s sure hard to see them, but they’re there. As I’d already learned, life was going on – with or without me as a willing participant. And life, by nature, can bring thousands of wonderful moments, if only we stop to notice them.
So I decided to notice. And write them down. I was going to make a list of 100 of my favorite moments, people, and things that had come into my life since that day last June. And as I started paying attention, and began writing them down, I began to see the evidence I needed.
Now, I’m one of those people that believes in the gratitude journal. At the end of each day, I write down 3 of my happiest moments from the day. And that practice has helped me maintain a positive attitude for the past several years. But this list was different. It wasn’t just about day-to-day gratitude.
The list was about recognizing that since the day of his death, from the very first traumatic moment, there have been good things. I just had to be willing to see them.
So I started writing. Started listing. What’s on my list so far? Big things, small things, silly things. Things like this:
2. I rekindled a friendship with a college friend. We now talk all the time, and it’s meant a lot to me to have him in my life again.
13. I hung tacky ceramic vintage owls on my office wall. The husband never would have approved.
21. I bowled over 100.
29. I saw Rudy, my favorite movie of all time, on the big screen for the first time, thanks to Theatre Cedar Rapids’ vintage movie nights.
33. I got 5 high scores in a row while playing Just Dance 2.
37. Gracie (my Beagle) still knows when I need puppy kisses and cuddles.
45. I wore an ugly Christmas sweater.
51. The best friend still listened to my heartache today. I’ve realized she isn’t going anywhere.
55. I bet this guy $5 that he wouldn’t eat a dead cricket. And lost.
60. I sang really badly at karaoke night – and had more fun on stage than I could have possibly imagined.
And the list keeps going. I try to add to it every week, and while I haven’t quite hit 100 things yet, I don’t plan to stop there.
I love the idea that maybe five years from now, even ten years from now, I’m still adding to this one list. I can imagine opening it up and adding item number 2,714. I have no idea what my future holds for me. Right now, it’s hard to predict beyond the next two months, let alone the next two years.
But what I do know is that if I keep adding to this list, the goodness in my life can only grow. And knowing that all of that good started after my very worst day is the most important piece of all. Because nothing can ever change what happened that day. But it’s my hope that years from now, I can look back at it, at all of this, and know that it was that day that gave me strength. Courage. Eventually, even hope. And that while that day was most certainly horrific, my life is most certainly not. And my list is all the proof I need.