Gratitude 2021

by Anne O'Connor

I am grateful…for the loving little black pup who took my heart with him to his permanent home.
And for video calls with my mother, who also took my heart with her to her new west-coast home.
For the general tenor among my friends of beauty-seeking and finding.
For the rigor of my MSW classes and for the seat among people who care about the world and do the tricky and careful work to make it better.
I’m grateful for the soul-deepening songs you write, record, and send me as you work them out.
I’m grateful for more support of people born in a body that doesn’t match their gender, even as hate and fear continue.
For 10 pm tennis-court forays. And rough drafts and collaboration.
For you showing me the world in a new way. For your ability to sauté and spice veggies into an incredible meal. For your love of cooking.
For the soft light aglow through the fall leaves—brilliant and warm.
For exquisite friends who are so good at seeing and being with life.
For you: living. And doing every single thing you can to heal at every level after someone plowed their SUV into your body, drove away, and left you there on the street.
For not hating the person who hurt you, but for curiosity instead.
For your words, so wonderfully strung together on the page.
For daily (daily!) video wave reports from Lake Michigan. For poems read aloud. For a bond that continues across time and space.
And tea and world-sorting on your front porch. For your singular perspective.
For phone calls that encourage open hearts and laughter and camaraderie. And both a reconciliation and admiration of our humanity, again and again.
For the card in the mail that makes me laugh and for you being there for the big moments.
For you letting me be there for you, too. For your vulnerability and trusting me with your heart.
I am grateful for Whatsapp groups for practical and emotional sustenance. For keeping family connected.
For women in groups committed to gathering despite the practical barriers of this time.
For a garden lovingly planted every morning of a heat wave and tended into a green and lush sanctuary.
For a vaccine that meant my family could be together for the first time in 17 months.
For sobriety: 35 years in. And for all my sober friends and family remaking and continuously building their lives.
For the writers and poets and musicians who help us see and feel and expand our hearts. For Michael Kleber-Diggs always and for Worldly Things particularly this year.
And also for the understanding and ways of seeing that Tema Okun has gathered in one place.
I am grateful for beautiful art and color and design. For notebooks and doodles and playing.
For fucking up a lot of things and you loving me anyway.
For your clarity about what you don’t want. Even when that’s me.
For conversations that heal and chess games that you will always win from now on.
For you learning what I taught you so thoroughly that it is wholly yours.
I am grateful for being alive and well and here for it all.
Thank you for being part of my life.

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