I believe in gratitude. When I was in 8th grade my family and I experienced one of the most traumatic experiences that could happen in anyone’s life time. It happened in the early morning hours of a Saturday morning in May 2003. I woke to my little brother yelling to the rest of my family that the kitchen was on fire. With little time to react, my mom woke the rest of the family up and tried to get us out of our now burning house. As we were leaving I took one last look at the walls that would never be again. I looked at the kitchen and our living room as the flames started to engulf everything. The smell of smoke and burning wood filled my nostrils as memories started to flood my mind: Cooking with my mom, family meetings in the living room, decorating the Christmas tree in December, large family gatherings were among those memories coming to mind. This house had so much history and relevance to my existence and my family’s existence as a whole. Yes, we were probably going to be able to rebuild, but it wasn’t going to ever be exactly the same. However, we all got out and stood on the side walk in the front yard and watched our house go up in flames. I had seen things like this happen in the news or on television but I never thought it would happen to me. I was in a state of shock and anxiety. I didn’t know where we were going to go because we were now virtually homeless. However as we stood on the side walk and the fire trucks started to roll in I noticed something that started to ease my fears. In the midst of all the sirens, smoke, and chaos there were five fully intact, breathing bodies standing on the side walk. There was still blood flowing through our veins and our hearts, although pounding out of our chests at this point from all the chaos, were still beating. We may have lost our house that night but we hadn’t lost each other.
I didn’t know what true gratitude really meant until this experience. Of course I had been to numerous thanksgiving dinners and joined my family in the ritual of going around the room and saying what you are thankful for, but I wasn’t truly grateful. I just said something because everyone else did. However now I knew what it felt like to be without something important and almost vital to my existence as I knew it. However by not losing my family that night I realized that our house didn’t make our home we did. Through that experience I learned what gratitude meant and it set me up for a life time full of it. I will never forget the power of gratitude. This is what I believe.
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