I am struggling to find thankfulness this year.
As I write 258,765 Americans have died from COVID. Households all over our country will be grieving their loss this Thursday, this coming Christmas, and for years to come. For those of us who haven't died of COVID much of what we knew of life is in shambles. We have lost incomes, jobs, housing, mental health, educational opportunities, and live with the fear of losing even more before vaccines are available.
We are all struggling to find firm ground to stand on while 2020 has been one pool of soul-sucking quicksand after the other.
The things I am thankful for carry corresponding feelings that are not very thankful at all.
I am thankful that when COVID hit our household no one died. Yet thankless that Mom survived it as her dementia progression worsens.
I am thankful that the election is finally over. Yet devastated that my fellow Americans remain bitterly divided. A division so deep I wonder if The Great American experiment has already ended, we're just the last to know.
I am thankful that the denizens of our Stumped Town Dementia household are healthy, but that gratitude is coupled with a pervasive survivor's guilt for all the dementia families who have lost loved ones, and not just through death.
Those of you who are caregivers to your dementia people in memory care have lost your folks through facility lock downs. Your inability to see and care for your dementia person - and the heartbreak that creates for you both - well, I just can't imagine that pain. It makes me feel like an assjack for my thankfulness of having Mom at home.
Yet I have not completely giving up hope of achieving the warmth of true gratitude this holiday. I shall spend these days before Thanksgiving searching my heart for a "thankful" that is not tainted with opposing emotions of thanklessness and faultfinding guilt.
But I already have one pure "thankful" set aside to ease the mental burden of this year: I am thankful for you, Reader.
I am thankful for your heartfelt responses of empathy, support, and unwavering solidarity as we walk this dementia path separate yet together. The fellowships we have created on this journey, the bonds we have formed as caregivers of all colors, ages, and beliefs gives me hope that a brighter future for humanity is possible. After all, we're doing one of the hardest jobs on the planet - if we can collaborate and support each other to help ourselves and our dementia folks in this colossal undertaking the rest of the world should be able to follow suit.
Perhaps that single "thankful" shall suffice this year.
From our household to yours this challenging Thanksgiving, try to cherish the small joys, relish the small victories, remember you are precious and treasure yourself as the hero who has stepped up to the caregiver plate in spite of certain defeat.
I shall endeavor to do the same here.