My 21st year was the best of my life. These last three months were the most challenging of my life, but the first nine were incredible. It would be so easy to let that last 25% overshadow the rest, and just call it the worst year/life ever, but I don't want to do that. So here are 22 things I'm grateful for on my 22nd birthday in no particular order.
1. My husband: Dallas is my perfect match. He's completes me in every way. If you want to hear me go on and on about how obsessed I am with him, you can read this article.
2. My home: basically everyone I've ever met has spent at least a few hours in the last three months working on renovations on our house. It's finally coming together and I am so grateful to have such a lovely home I can decorate and care for.
3. My in-laws: just like everybody's in-laws, mine are a little crazy, but they have rushed to our side and poured out love and help and support in such a sincere and touching way, and I love them all so much.
4. Social Media: through the internet I have been able to connect with, mourn with, and cry with thousands of other people across the country and even the world. I have loved getting to know people and hear their stories and social media makes this possible!
5. Women: the phrase "girl power" has never really resonated with me before these last few months. There have been grieving fathers and wonderful men in my life who have helped me, but I have been totally blown away by the number of women and mothers whose unconditional love and sympathy I have felt from the very first day Alice passed.
6. My doctor: after my sister Natalie lost her daughter Margot, her doctor didn't remember. He literally asked her where her baby was at her follow-up appointment. I am so grateful for my doctor. He remembered Alice and was kind and supportive and shared that he also lost his first child. I'm so glad he is the one who delivered Alice.
7. iPhones: I have thousands and thousands of pictures and over 100 videos of my sweet baby Alice. I know I only have them because of the blessing of technology.
8. My family: Someone once asked my dad," You guys are really into family, aren't you?" and my dad said," Isn't everyone?" My family has always been close, but we have really huddled together and buoyed each other up as we all mourn the loss of Alice.
9. My Therapist: Finding a therapist you connect with is extremely difficult. I have probably seen about 8 different professionals in my life, and I can honestly say I feel like I only got real results with two of them. My current therapist, Sandy, is a huge blessing to me. She also lost a daughter and has helped me immensely with my grief. I highly recommend therapy to anyone who is grieving the loss of a child.
10. Pizza Hut Delivery: No I am not being compensated for this, I just like ordering a stuffed crust cheese pizza at 10 am about twice a week, ok? And it makes it even better that I don’t even have to leave my house to get it.
11. Other Babies: I love that I can snuggle and love on and play with other little babies like my nieces Norah and Annie. To hear more about my favorite babies read this article.
12. My faith: It has been the greatest blessing of all to believe in Jesus Christ, and to have faith that I will get to be with Alice again in heaven. If you’d like to learn more about my religion you can do so here.
13. Netflix: Sometimes when you are sad, all you can do is shut off your brain and watch How I Met Your Mother until Netflix condescendingly inquires, “Are you still there?” Which brings me to my next item.
14. Bed: I love my huge, comfy king sized bed. It makes long depressed days in my room luxurious and welcoming.
15. School: I am currently taking some college courses online and having them as a distraction and a way to occupy and exercise my mind has been so wonderful.
16. My chemistry teacher: Alice’s funeral was the first week of classes, so needless to say, I was out of commission the first bit of the semester. My teacher has been incredibly understanding and flexible with due dates, helpful with office hours, and accommodating to my every need. She has enabled me to succeed in school and allow it to benefit my life instead of completely overwhelm me and tear me down.
17. Massage therapists: Today I had my third massage since Alice died. I believe they are the second-best therapy when grieving the loss of a child, second only to actual therapy (which is also wholeheartedly endorse).
18. Memories: I am grateful I have the capacity to remember things I did with Alice, and times we all had as a family. I can’t always remember everything, but I love when I see or hear or even smell something that brings back a memory I had forgotten.
19. March Madness: I know, but bear with me. I have never cared about basketball before, but as it stands I have a pretty good shot at winning my extended family bracket and I could really use a win right now!
20. The time I had with Alice: through my experience of loss, I have been introduced to so many mothers who have lost their children. Some were stillborn, and some only lived a few days. Even though I had hoped for a lifetime with Alice, almost 5 months of heaven on earth is something to be grateful for.
21. Laughter: I love to laugh and be silly and enjoy happy moments when it almost feels like nothing is wrong.
22. You: I am grateful that there are people like you who care about my story. Who read what I have to say and love and miss and think about and remember my sweet Alice Michelle.
I truly believe that in all circumstances there are things for which to be grateful, and that gratitude can brighten your life. Here’s hoping that 22 will bring many more wonderful blessings, experiences, and reasons to feel joy.