I am thankful (sorry it’s cliche!)


I am not going to say that I am thankful for my mum’s diagnosis. I’m not at that stage yet, and I’m not sure if I ever genuinely will be. Yet these past two weeks have left me with much to be thankful for.

So much more than I expected.

Yet I hesitate to share this reality, because it sounds too saccharine.

‘Practising gratitude’ has become a stock ‘self-care’ practice over the last few years and so I am scared of being ‘cliché’.

sorry it's cliche to be thankful www.calledtowatch.com #caregiver #struggle #chronicillness #writer #hope #chronic #faith #watching #prayer

Not because clichés are wrong or embarrassing (we can’t all be hipsters and there’s really nothing new under the sun!) but because I don’t want my thankfulness to be seen as something artificial.

I am not thankful because I ‘ought’ to be, or because I ‘have’ to be, or because the Bible says I should be. I am thankful because I genuinely have a lot to be thankful for.

Last but not least, I can be thankful because I hold onto a Hope which exists in the aftermath. In the face of suffering and cancer leading to death forever, I would find it hard to be thankful for these things. Yet because I know these little bursts of light are only glimmers of what will come after death, I find I can be thankful.

And so I rejoice and I cry, and I do both at the same time and that does not reduce the potency of either.

Sorry if it’s cliche, but I am thankful:

For support.

For the overwhelming messages and offers of help and meals and work swaps and prayers. Some people who have come to me say, “I know you’ve probably heard it before, but…” There’s no “but”. Every condolence, every question, every message makes me and my family feel loved. Each matter; each are a bright spark. And so I am thankful.

For history.

The reality is I’ve sort of done this all before, and so this time it’s a bit easier.

I’m not currently living with my family, and that’s not ideal but okay because we’ve done this already. My mum’s been in surgery twice since I’ve moved out. I’ve already ‘done’ long-distance hospital visiting, and life-work-family-juggling. Before I left home, my sister spent three months in hospital. I’ve been in theatre as she’s gone under, I’ve signed forms, I’ve been in recovery, I’ve talked my way into ICU. We all have. We all know how ‘this’ works, and so I am thankful.

For dreams come true.

This past week mum spent two glorious days with me at my place. It’s something I’ve long dreamed about, and the up-coming surgery provided the impetus for it to happen. It was… good. It was everything it needed to be. I don’t know what the months ahead will hold, but at least we’ve done this. I am thankful.

For treatment.

This is huge. Most pancreatic cancer is a sure death sentence. Most pancreatic cancer is not ‘caught’ until it’s too late. Mum’s cancer is stage one. She can have surgery. She can be treated. She can live. I am so, so, so thankful.

For literature.

This sounds ridiculous, but I find that for me it’s true. Authors have written books with truth in them. They’ve written works which deal with pain and suffering, and also hope and community. Writers and producers have created television series and films which discuss reality and life, and don’t shy from tough topics, and don’t lapse into ‘happily-ever-after’ conclusions. And I am thankful for this, because it helps me feel not alone.

For Jesus.

My Saviour is one who suffered. He was despised by the people around him, he was whipped and bloodied. He ached and sweated and wept. If my God had not agonised, if He had not died, I don’t know if I could follow Him. And so I am thankful.

// What about you? Have you ever been able to be ‘thankful’ during a difficult time?

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Author: Emily J. M.

Hi, I'm Emily. Two of my closest family members struggle with chronic illness, and I watch them. That's hard, and so I write about life as a 'Watcher', what it looks like to support them and find Hope.

2 thoughts on “I am thankful (sorry it’s cliche!)”

  1. Hi Emily, Just saw this in the newsletter. It’s helpful and thoughtful. Praying for your mum and the rest of your family. May God give you all many more things for which to be thankful in the coming days.

Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you, friend.