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Why I’m Thankful for Much More Than Turkey

When her life turned upside down in an instant, Laurie WJN had to find the strength to keep going – and now is so thankful that she did. Read more from Laurie on her blog, Looking on the Sunnyside.


In order to embrace the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday I decided to focus on the things I am thankful for.  It’s easy to list my wonderful husband, my two incredible daughters, my beautiful home, my friends, my furry family members that add so much to my life, but offering a list of things I am thankful for can not adequately describe the journey I have been on, and the impact of each and every person and thing on my list.

Why I'm Thankful for Much More Than Turkey

Seven years ago I was an ordinary working mom, in a very typical home.  I had everything someone would want, and I saw my future going down a happy and comfortable path, until one afternoon when everything changed.

My husband of twenty-two years suddenly, and with almost no warning, decided to take his own life.  In an instant I went from being in a stereotypical middle class family to being a widow with two children, just trying to survive and make it through each day.  I can never sufficiently thank the people who stepped up to help me through that dark time.

At first I felt as if I were under water, I was physically present, but nothing seemed to look right or feel right, and I wandered through in a haze of shock and grief.  I felt crushing fear, trying to figure out how I was going to pay the bills, help my children get through this awful time too and somehow regain myself in the midst of all of this.

It didn’t happen overnight, and there were some bumpy patches along the way, but I can happily report that now – 7 years later, I have never been happier.  My midlife adventure took on a whole new meaning, as I left the ‘old’ me behind and embraced everything that my new path in life had to offer.  I embraced being 40 something and free to be me.  I took trips, I entered the fray of midlife dating and I am happy to share that I found a partner who builds me up everyday.  I would never say that I am glad about what happened, but the lessons I learned have been invaluable.

So when I say I am thankful for my husband, I know what its like to lose someone you love and I appreciate every minute that I spend with Peter. I take time to appreciate even the simple things like snuggling on the couch, because I know how important those moments are.

When I say I am thankful for my daughters, I think about all they have been through in their lives and I am overwhelmed by their resilience.  As they create their own life path, I know they will be successful, because I saw them handle our tragedy with such strength and grace.

When I say that I am thankful for my beautiful home, I think back to the days when I wasn’t sure if I could pay the mortgage.  I remember having to struggle to learn how to fix and maintain items in my house, because there was no one else there to help.  I know the literal blood, sweat and tears that went into keeping this house and transforming it into our refuge.

When I say that I am thankful for my friends I think back to their compassion and generosity, when friends brought food, helped fix things around the house, invited me out for a much needed night of laughter or any of the million small things that helped me deal with everything going on.  I think of the genuine smiles on those same friends’ faces as they celebrated my marriage to my new husband, radiating the joy they felt for me and their genuine happiness that I had been able to find love again.

Even being thankful for my furry family members, remembering how much unconditional love and comfort my sweet dog provided, being there when I needed him the most.  I remember the nights I was afraid of being alone, so he stayed with me.  The times he just sat by my side so I would know that he was there.

I turned 50 years old this year, and I can truly say that I have more things to be thankful for than ever before.  My life is different now, but I think my journey has allowed me to see how important the people in my life are.  I would never say I am thankful for what happened, but this Thanksgiving I can without hesitation say that I am thankful for the lessons I learned and the incredible life that I have now.

Laurie WJN

Laurie WJN is a self-described writer, dreamer and child at heart. Her unique insights on emotions and behavior come from her many roles as a wife, mother, sister and former recreational therapist and middle school teacher. Laurie wrote her first book in 2001. Laurie lives in Arizona with her incomparable husband and three unruly dogs. You can buy Laurie's book, The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus, on Amazon.

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Thursday 27th of November 2014

What a blessing to read this at this moment. I'm currently by my mother's bedside in ICU after surgery yesterday. I'm full of faith that she will improve.

My story is much like yours with the exception that my 1st husband of 26 years died of cancer in 2007. I can relate to everything you described in this writing; I felt as though my heart was being ripped out af my chest. I, as well, remarried 3 years ago. My new husband is amazing. He'd been through a lot of pain as well. We do not take one single moment for granted. I'm thankful today for every moment I have with my loved can be so short...this I know!

Laurie WJN

Friday 28th of November 2014

Thanks so much Carey, I am sending positive thoughts your way for your Mom. Life really is amazing and I am so glad that you also found love after loss. Going through hard times really does help us appreciate all that we have in our lives.

Neal Gresley

Wednesday 26th of November 2014

Laurie, I didn't know the story behind all of this. You are an amazing woman to go through all of this. I new that you were a great RT, moving on to be a teacher, and now an author/blog writer. Not to mention, a must! Fantastic mom. Keep going! Remember, Life goes on!

Laurie WJN

Friday 28th of November 2014

Thanks Neal, Life does go on & in my case it has gotten even better!

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