A Wake Up Call, and Gratitude

I was standing in line at the bank this morning and an old acquaintance I hadn’t seen in months arrived and lined up behind me.  We chatted—how have you been? What’s up in your life? You know, small talk.  Then he took a breath, seemed to sink into a deeper place, and said “there’s something I feel you should know.” He told me about a mutual friend who had just found out she has liver and bone cancer.

I gaped. I was stunned. This lovely woman is a dancer–a ballet dancer. Beautiful, artistic, sweet, and way too young for this–probably in her early 40’s if I had to guess.  She was a teacher of mine not too many months ago when I took a weekly morning ballet class that never failed to light up my day.  She is an amazing teacher. Precise, compassionate, discerning. I just cannot imagine her imperiled by this freakish evil disease–not this lovely, strong, graceful artist.

But I know I tend, like most of us, to keep my head buried in the sand when it comes to things like this.  This news shook me up.  And it’s Thanksgiving.  Most of us will be gathering with friends and family this week to eat huge amounts of food and sit around watching TV. I don’t mean to get all judgmental.  Many will also spend time in gratitude–for friends, family, enough to eat, and yes, for health.  I myself am having a simple meal with a couple of dear friends.  But I will spend the first half of the day in quiet meditation and prayer, giving thanks for simple things like good health and the presence of loved ones in my life.  And my beautiful ballet dancer friend will take center stage in my mind and heart. May you beat this thing, and keep dancing.

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