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GRATITUDE

"Though I know I'll never lose affection for people and things that went before I know I'll often stop and think about them, in my life I love you more."

-The Beatles, "In My Life" Spring has sprung ... well, more like a little hop, but after the sub-freezing temperatures we had this winter any reading over fifty degrees is spring in my book. I'm looking forward to seeing the snow melt and the trees bud, the morning frost become dew, the ground thaw and the grasses green. I'm in a place of gratitude right now and I feel like a flower getting ready to bloom. Growing up, spring was a difficult time for my family. When I was seven I lost my father just after Easter weekend. Several years later I lost my grandfather just before Easter weekend. In between those two dates, and for several years after, it always seemed as though we were attending a funeral or a wake just as the rest of the world was coming back to life. Spring had become a time of year that I came to dread. But, as time went on, beautiful events began to smooth over the painful ones. I met my husband in the spring of 1991 and I married him in the spring of 1994. We had our first son in the spring of 1996 and our youngest son in the spring of 1998. And even though the first time I was diagnosed with cancer was in the spring of 2007, each year as that date passes I celebrate my cancerversary. For me it's become a day that's more important than my birthday. It's a day that I remind myself what a gift this life is. It's a day I celebrate being healthy and mark the joy of having spent another year on this planet with the people I love the most. This spring will bring several 'once in a lifetime' events into my life making this year especially sweet. My husband and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage. Yes, we certainly took that whole, "in sickness and health" vow to the extreme but we came out on the other side stronger and connected in a way I can't even begin to describe. I will undergo one final surgery (lucky number seven for those of you keeping score at home) to finally make me whole again. This spring, we will cheer our eldest son as he walks across the stage to receive his high school diploma. I'm already hoarding the Kleenex, as that day will be very emotional for me because, if I let myself go there, I do feel as if I'm on borrowed time. I'm so grateful that I am here to see him as he begins to reach for his dreams. I will witness our youngest son, my baby, get his learners permit and begin to enjoy the independence that comes with that responsibility. And once again, I will be fortunate enough to celebrate my cancerversary (lucky number seven for those of you keeping score at home). I've been given a second chance to live, twice. I've frequently said I never considered getting cancer a gift and I never really understood those who did. To me, it always seemed a little disingenuous, like polishing a turd. But I cannot deny that the sparkly little turd that is my cancer allowed me to embrace life a little differently. To view milestones with more reverence; to move through my days with some grace, a little more love, and a lot more humility. Through my earbuds tonight as I listen to John Lennon sing "There are places I remember all my life, though some have changed. Some forever not for better, some have gone and some remain. All these places had their moments, with lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living in my life I've loved them all..." I do, and I have. That song reminds me to looking back on all that I have accomplished and all that I have overcome. As I move forward, I do so with a profound sense of peace and happiness. I'm excited to watch my boys become men. I'm thankful to be strong and healthy. I'm grateful for every day that I open my eyes.

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© 2012 Jennifer Pellechio Lukowiak

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