Remember Thankful Things Thursday?!
I know, it’s been a while (since April, to be exact). Probably because for the solid majority of this year, I felt thankful for very little. I remember one day, during my gluten-free, dairy-free, “I will do whatever it takes to get better at this point” phase feeling thankful for my discovery of Amy’s gluten-free, vegan macaroni and cheese meals. Beyond that? I don’t recall feeling particularly grateful on the regular.
Oh now I’d like to formally RSVP to the Thankful Party.
And the party is today.
So here I am.
Brace yourselves. This one’s about to be a doozy. Do people still say “doozy?”
I’m thankful for so much every single day. I’m thankful I get to get off the couch. I’m thankful when I sleep through the night. I’m thankful to no longer have the night sweats. I’m thankful my arthritis pain has ceased entirely. I’m thankful I can — most days, at least — take the subway to work. I’m thankful I can go to work. I’m thankful when my favorite toilet paper is on sale at Duane Reade.
I’m thankful I can run again. It’s not easy. But it’s always fun. Even on my most tired legs, running into a headwind, uphill, in the rain, making a dozen bathroom stops at a time. I do not take this ability for granted. For so long I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other. And now I can, for double-digit miles at a time. It’s an incredible feeling.
[Slight pause in writing because apparently I’m crying now. In part because listening to this song brings it out in me. In a much larger part because I’ve been waiting to write this post for so long, and I’m finally doing it.]
I’m thankful for my parents. My incredible, patient, understanding, forgiving parents. I imagine that the only thing worse than being very sick is standing by while your child is very sick and not being able to do anything about it. I have unwillingly and tearfully put my mom and dad through the ringer this year, and every single moment I was in pain I would think about how far away Contoocook, NH, felt.
I cried on the phone to them almost every day for seven months straight. And every time I called, they answered. And they let me cry and they did everything in their power to be there for me.
I will never forget the day I was supposed to fly to Hawaii with Brian. We had looked forward to this vacation for so long (and had paid for it in full, too). But the day came, and I was in no shape to get on a plane. So I sent Brian on his way and, that day, went to a new doctor. A doctor I loathed. On the two block walk back to my apartment, I called my dad and, as I tried to haul my weak body up the hill from Second to Third Avenue, I found myself completely out of breath and unable to go on. I sat down on the sidewalk and just totally lost it.
That night, I got on a teeny tiny plane to Manchester, NH. I so clearly recall walking in the pouring rain (so dramatic, right?) toward my mom’s car. I was where I needed to be. (I couldn’t wait to hug my parents — and yet my mom didn’t even recognize me as I approached the car, probably because I was down 20 pounds from my normal weight.)
My parents did everything they could to try and “fix me” while I was home. They waited on me hand and foot, putting cool wash cloths on my forehead to try and break my fevers, buying me new pajamas to try and perk me up and forcing me to walk one lap a day around the first floor of the house just to get some semblance of movement.
At the end of my week-long stay, my parents drove me back to the airport.
To everyone’s dismay, I wasn’t any better.
I will never forget that drive back to the Manchester Airport. My dad drove so carefully, making sure not to hit any potholes or bumps, since the slightest movement was so painful for me. I thought that was the nicest, most thoughtful gesture ever.
As I walked through security, I remember turning around to wave goodbye and seeing my mom crying. I could not hold it together; clearly that’s a genetic trait. I felt like I was breaking their hearts. They wanted to fix me, and I felt so guilty for putting them through so much.
So as much of a toll as this whole saga took on me, I know it was even harder on them. I will never be able to express my gratitude to them.
[Honestly, with these tears. What is happening here?]
I’m thankful for Brian. I would love to tell you that getting sick brought us closer than ever. That he held my hand throughout this entire thing and that seeing me at my most vulnerable made him fall even more in love with me.
In the mere two and a half years that we have been dating, nothing has been as hard as this. Seven months of misery was so hard on our relationship.
But he’s still here. And so am I. Brian has seen me at my best, my sweatiest and this year, at my absolute worst. Brian is the one who saw me every single day. He was the one next to me in bed the night my ankle blew up and I had to crawl to the bathroom as I was screaming in pain.
All those moments you think to yourself, “Ugh, I hope no one ever sees me like this?”
Brian has seen me at every one of those moments. I’d like to think it gets easier and prettier from here.
I’m thankful for the people who hug you and don’t have to say anything because they’ve been there and they understand. To Patti and Meghan Dann, to Abby and to all the people who reached out to tell me “I know what you’re going through” — you are the ones who kept me going when I really, really didn’t want to keep going.
I’m thankful for my little Lauren, my tall hot Sara and my fast Kristan. I cried to my parents on the phone, to Brian in person and to Lauren, Sara and Kristan on GChat. They were there for me every day, with the little green circle next to their names in my GChat window. And no matter the day’s drama, these three girls never told me to shut up, never told me I was being irrational and never made me feel badly for telling them all my worst, deepest thoughts. For a while, I even had an ongoing email to Lauren called “Things on the internet that piss me off.” She never told me to sign offline. That’s a good friend.
I’m thankful for my coworkers, especially my incredibly kind now-neighbor Michael. They kept things going while I was on medical leave, and Dance Spirit didn’t miss a beat. They visited me, picked up my prescriptions for me when I couldn’t leave the apartment and assured me I was missed around the office (perhaps a little white lie, but it’s one I’m OK with).
I’m thankful for Meggie, who knows more about my bodily functions than anyone. Probably even my doctor. I got into the habit of emailing her daily to describe everything.
I’m thankful for Gregg and Bethany, the two people who truly brought me back to life. When I couldn’t do anything — specifically go to my beloved SoulCycle classes — they brought the world to me. They showed up at my apartment one night with SoulCycle candles, a playlist, an outfit and so much love and kindness. I take Bethany’s class every Sunday (come! it’s the funnest!) and at the end of every class, I remind her that she brought me back to life.
[Can someone bring me another box of tissues? I mean, shitttttt.]
Bethany and Gregg showed me a kind of selflessness that I thought was lost in this world. I was at a very low point the night they came over (with Sara, too!). I had pretty much given up. I woke up that next morning committed to powering on. They changed my entire outlook.
I will never forget my first SoulCycle class back with Bethany. I sat all the way in the back, I couldn’t get on the beat for my life and I cried happy-joy tears from the warm-up right through the cool-down. When Bethany gave me a mid-class shout out — “Ali, this is a huge victory for you” — I was heave-sobbing and so glad I was in a very loud, very dark room.
I know this is getting long. I’m almost done. I just have a lot of people to thank.
I’m thankful for Ryan and Michaela. They would Skype with me at night and I wouldn’t even have to talk. They would just let me sit there and watch Tyler which brought me more happiness than I know how to describe.
I’m so thankful for Tyler.
When I was at my worst and I wanted to quit life, I thought about Tyler and it snapped me back to reality. He is everything to me.
Finally, I’m so thankful for all of you. I hope you know how much I really, truly, from the bottom of my formerly stone-cold heart mean that.
When I felt like I didn’t know where to turn, I would come to this little internet place and try to write. And whenever I did, you were there for me. You encouraged me, you cheered for me, you sympathized with me and you shared your own stories with me.
You kept me going and you held me up when I was falling so far down. As a writer, I fully comprehend the cliches here and the cheesiness of all of this. But please know how genuine this is.
The support I felt from this blog community was tirelessly tremendous.
I love you forever.