When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep,
and I fall asleep counting my blessings…
(lyrics by Irving Berlin from the musical “White Christmas”)
Who knew Irving Berlin was such a wise man?
I don’t know about you, but it always seems that whatever I’m worried about wages a sneak attack, delivers a low blow when I’m nestled down, comfy, warm, and secure, in my bed, ready to go to sleep. It’s at these times when those nagging worries and concerns in my life worm their way into my mind, and demand me to join them in the night time dance of insomnia.
There’s nothing worse than being on the verge of falling to sleep, only to have your eyes pop open with the “what’s” (am I doing with my life?), the “how’s” (am I going to make things work?), and the “when’s” (will things get better?).
When I was recovering from the bacterial infection which left me hanging onto my life with the one remaining limb it didn’t destroy, my anxiety level was so high it was off the charts. I was literally riddled with the “What’s”,” How’s” and “When’s.” It was overwhelming for me to think about what I was going to do with this newly altered body; when was I ever going to get out (of the hospital) and get on with my life; how was I going to regain my life as wife and mother as a newly disabled person…a triple amputee.
To put my mind at ease, I would gaze out of my west facing hospital room window. I had an amazing view of the majestic Rocky Mountains, and every evening I witnessed the sun lowering itself in an orange and red cascade of color into the purple and blue sky. The beauty of the sunset calmed my soul, and the constancy of that magnificent event; the knowledge that I was once again fortunate enough to witness it, yet another evening, made me realize how truly blessed I was to be alive. Regardless of what was left of me, I could still take in my glorious view…
After my husband, Michael, died, I wrote a letter of gratitude to all my friends, family, and the benevolent strangers who had offered their support to me and my children through Michael’s battle with cancer, and his loss of that battle...our loss of his life. I showed my mother the letter, asking her for feedback. After reading my words of appreciation, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked, “How can you remain so positive, and feel so blessed after everything you’ve lost?” I shrugged my shoulders and replied, “If I only looked at what I’ve lost, I’d never be able to see all that I have.”
As a Survivor, I keep my blessings in clear sight. They improve my attitude, help diminish my grief. I see them with 20/20 clarity. And when my night time worries begin to sneak up, trying to engage me in a slumberless dance, I think about my life —what it means to be a survivor. I acknowledge the fact that I am fortunate to be alive, to have made it through another day. At the close of the day, I get to witness one of nature’s finest no longer from a hospital bed, but standing on my front porch. And I relish in the beauty-- the beauty of the blessing.
I tuck in for another night’s sleep, letting go of the “what’s, the “how’s” and the “when’s”. And then I simply take Mr. Berlin’s advice…I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I end up sleeping like a baby.