Happy To Be Thankful

Ashley - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Entered on March 3, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: setbacks

I believe in the old adage that many things in life come with experience, even being thankful. Society revolves around a lack of appreciation. Especially in westernized cultures, we live each day craving for more…more food, more clothes, more vacations, and more money – so “more” becomes a synonym of “life”. We desire what we do not have. Regardless of what we read in the Old Testament about not coveting. We strive to achieve, gain, and keep what may not be ours and feeling proud of ourselves in the process. I’ve seen this unruly nature in everyone – especially in me.

I remember it was only last year when I was feeling unstoppable, invincible, and much like any other 15-year-old, not ever wanting to look beyond my own circle of opportunities. Doing the best by wanting for myself, was the best I could do for everyone else. For having a daughter, a sister, and a friend like me should have been a blessing to them…so I thought. A day’s time was too short to notice my mom and dad who were steadfast and ready to sacrifice anything for my happiness or to ever acknowledge the respect and loyalty my little sister hung onto when it came to me. Despite my stubbornness that often lead to pretentious mistakes, friends surrounded me with laughter filling my life with the desire to want more friends and more laughter.

I was diagnosed with cancer on December 22, 2006 ~ three days before Christmas. Acute Myeloid Leukemia. An 8-month ordeal of intensive chemotherapy treatment, during which feelings of imprisonment became unbearable. I’ve pushed the experience far back, probably further back behind my childhood memories… pretty much into my subconscious. I feel comfortable about this because the day when I have the energy to sort my thoughts will come. Memories of blood, tubes, needles, pain – are all overwhelming – at least for now. Meanwhile, battling this fatal disease forced me to stop everything that I was doing and to look around at all the things I should be thankful for. The ability to eat, taste, stand, walk, and make independent choices.

As I stepped out of the hospital, in full remission, my head was in place and my mind in perspective. I realized just how incredibly easy it had been to get caught up in this life, where your insatiable appetite to achieve and do as much as possible so you could gain as much as possible was a mere reflection of our society today. How clear things became when everything stopped for those eight months. It’s ridiculous that people find every way to despise their life or situation and to blame others for their unhappiness. Why is finding the “good things” in life so difficult? Today, I sit and think about my family and friends. I believe happiness is attainable, but you must be thankful first. I am so thankful. And because of this, I believe I am happy.