I'm grateful I learned to love, because everything compared to that emotion seems pale and lifeless. Like yesterday when I was sitting in the chair with Eric and snuggling, I could feel his heart beating and smell that good smell that belongs specifically to his neck, and feel the warmth of being alive all around us. And I just loved him so much that my heart wanted to burst wide open, and I felt safe.
I'm grateful that I learned to laugh, because even if it's sometimes too loud and sometimes too forced it still heals up those broken parts inside me. Like today when Carly looked at her glove and said "It keeps flopping" and it sounded a lot more like she said "its keeps f...ing." And while that might not seem funny at the outset, when you imagine that word coming out in Carly's little tiny girl voice and then making the connection that it was flopping all along - well, that's good stuff.
I'm grateful I learned to touch, because I can't imagine not feeling the wonderful completeness that comes from touching the flesh of your flesh. Like today when randomly in the book section of Wal-Mart, I grabbed Josh and just held him tight against me. Then he put his arms around my waist and my nose was all filled up with the wonderful scent of his hair and my hands were all full of a puffy jacket with Josh underneath. That was just like heaven. And it wasn't even on sale, it was free.
I'm grateful I learned to think, to let my brain wander and expand and learn. Like yesterday when Eric and I were working out what to do with money - now that it's suddenly a much bigger concern - and I noticed that Eric's careful calculations were missing something important. And together we were able to work out some kind of solution that wasn't perfect but that worked for now.
I'm grateful I learned to see and hear because it allowed me to take in this vast world in all its infinite beauty. Like just now when Eric was leaving to go home teaching and Carly ran to him, crying, because she didn't want him to leave. And she stood there pressed against his leg with tears sparkling on the lashes of her almond-shaped brown eyes. I got to see how much this little girl loves her father, not because he gave her life but because he gave her love. And then a cupcake with pink frosting.
I'm grateful that I learned to cry because somehow letting it all out washes me clean. Like when my sister got here and I was sick, so sick that hot was too hot and cold was too cold, so sick that my body felt like it had been tumbling around in a dryer all day, and I sat next to her on the couch. I tucked in next to her and laid my head on her shoulder, my brown curly hair mixing with her golden cascade, and she covered me with a blanket and patted my leg with her soft, small hand. Such a feeling of relief and joy and love and grief washed over me and I felt no shame in letting the tears fall on her shoulder.
I'm grateful that I learned to write. Because it allows me to put all these thoughts and feelings down in a way I could never express with speech. It allows me to pass on my gratitude, to say with full heart how lucky I am, to turn to my parents - thousands of miles away - and say thank you for giving me life and family and love, for teaching me the beginning of how to live so that now, as an adult, I can continue learning these things day by day, line upon line, growing and changing.