(Warning lots of sap ahead)
A lot of people take the time on Thanksgiving to reflect on the various blessings and good things they have in their lives.
I’m spending this Thanksgiving thanking God for the butt-whooping he’s given me in 2009.
I won’t lie to you … 2009 has been a tough year for me. Some of the struggles might seem minor compared to some, but there have been challenges all over the place.
There have been two biggies that really threw me for a loop, but I’d like to think I came out of them a stronger person, and dare I say a better person.
The first was my son’s suicide attempt earlier this year brought on by a constant stream of bullying and abuse that largely went unnoticed and unreported for months before it came to that.
I couldn’t believe it when I was forced to deal with it. Aside from the obvious feelings of being crushed and hurt and worried for my boy, I also could relate to what he was going through.
You see, I have two suicide attempts under my belt as well. Both of them happened at ages not much older than my son.
The blessing that came out of this ordeal is that not only am I a dad who would walk barefoot through the very fires of hell to pull my boy out of his darkest moment, as most fathers would do, but I could truly look my son in the eye and say “I know how you feel.”
And those wouldn’t be empty words, because I truly can imagine how he felt. I could relate. I could connect.
And he can connect and relate with me. And for that, I am truly blessed because not only do I get to be the dad to my son that will always be Zeus, but I’m the imperfect dad who can learn as much from my son as he can learn from me.
Me being there for my son didn’t just help him become a stronger person.
It helped me be a better person, and a better father to my daughters who are truly the apples of my eye, and to a better husband to my wife, who has been my rock and best friend in more ways (not the Quagmire way, you pervs!) than you can imagine.
The other visit to God’s woodshed happened just a few months ago.
I found myself on a hospital bed with all sorts of tubes and montiors after experiencing the worst chest pains I’ve ever had in my life. In fact, my wife and I rolled into the hospital thinking I was in the midst of a heart attack.
At the ripe old age of 35.
I remember it was about 2 in the morning, and there I was, awake after the
vampires nursing staff took the umpteenth vial of blood, looking up at the sterile, impersonal ceiling telling God, “OK you wanted my attention, you’ve got it.”
As it turns out, it had nothing to do with the ticker, but with the fact that I’d pumped way too much crap into my system in the form of processed meat products, cheese, grease, malt and grain-based beverages and what have you that my innards were having a tough time handling it all.
I’d forgotten that I’m not forever stuck at 22, the invincible age. I never bothered to think that continuing to live like I was 22 meant I’d be dead by 42.
It was the wake-up alarm that I couldn’t risk hitting the snooze button on.
I won’t say I’ve been perfect since that day, but I have said goodbye to 20 pounds since then, and even though I’ve kind of leveled off and have cheated from time to time, and I know I’m on the right path and will eventually get to where I need to be.
It’s because of these struggles and challenges that I’m thankful. A lot of people like to use this time to focus on the good in their lives, and that’s OK, because I think all of us should realize that not everything is as horrible as others would like you to believe it is.
But for me, I’m focusing on two very bad experiences, because out of those tough times, I think God has helped me become a wiser man, a smarter man, and a better man. Lessons that have not only helped me do better for me, but to do better for those who depend on me.
And for that, I’m thankful.