Things We Take For Granted

In this season of giving, I’m unable to give my time or money to charities and community groups like I normally do. Instead, my “group” is my mom; my efforts all for her comfort.

When facing someone who’s dying, the gifts I receive far outweigh any measure of comfort I offer.  I’d like to share with you some things I realized I took for granted, when my mom began to struggle with a deteriorating body.

  1. Swallowing
  2. Getting up out of bed on your own
  3. Getting up out of a chair on your own
  4. Having enough meat on your tush to sit comfortably for a long time
  5. Being able to cross your legs while sitting
  6. Feeding yourself
  7. Walking
  8. Getting on & off a toilet
  9. Brushing your teeth
  10. Flossing
  11. Reading a book
  12. Choosing what you want to eat, or cooking for yourself
  13. Driving a car
  14. Shopping in a store not in a wheelchair
  15. Driving

Every so often, I’ll stop, completely, in the course of my day, and realize that I’m totally present. Sometimes it’s not totally present, but at least way more present than usual. Today it was when I plucked my eyebrows. Ok, maybe that’s an easy one what with pinpricks on my forehead. But, yesterday, it was when The Doobie Brothers Listen to the Music came on the radio. I started to sing along, and chills went up my spine for the pure joy & pleasure of driving along in that moment. These are the times I remember how lucky I am to be alive, to be driving, to be able to feed myself, etc. These are the times I usually forget where I’m driving, accidentally cut someone off, and then remember I left the shopping list on the kitchen counter. Ah, well. You can’t win ’em all…


What everyday things do you often take for granted?


Posted in Inspiration, People | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to Things We Take For Granted

  1. Meghan Ward says:

    Thank you for posting this, Marissa. I am in no way dealing with the same difficulties, but traveling in Nepal the last two months I definitely found myself feeling very thankful for the things I have back at home…even the simplest of things, like not having to treat my water. When we are stripped of our usual comforts we become aware of how much we took those comforts for granted.

    I know that there are so many things I take for granted – even just the freedom to travel and have flexibility in my life. I truly am aware of how lucky I am, but could I really cope without those things? What if my life changed as drastically as your mom’s – how would I handle that?

    While I was in Nepal, a childhood friend died of cancer. When I got food poisoning I spent some time just thinking about her and everything she went through with chemo. That really put things into perspective for me and made me very thankful. I truly have the biggest heart this Christmas season as I return home (to my childhood home), see the family, and celebrate a year of many successes and joys. But, your post reminded me to be thankful in the small things, even the tiniest things – you never know when you just won’t have those things in your life anymore.

    • marissa says:

      You’re so very welcome, Meghan! I’m so glad it was a great reminder for you. I hadn’t made the connection to the kind of travel you & I like to do, but you are absolutely right. Travel to places where the comforts of our lives don’t exist, and gratitude for simple pleasures really kicks into high gear. I felt this a lot in Alaska. It’s important to be grateful for the big things, but my path has lead me to experiencing gratitude for the small things first. When that happens, then the big things come into focus. Sounds weird, but it’s what happened in my case.

      Want to extend my condolences to you about your friend who passed away from cancer. It must have been challenging to hear it while you were away. I hope you can get closure around it, and fully grieve. Do whatever you need to for any feelings that may arise. But, how lucky were you that you were in _Nepal_? It’s great that you live such a wonderful life. The fact that you contientiously push yourself, push your comfort boundaries, and seek awareness constantly to engage with integrity every day that comes to you, that is truly inspirational. AND, you have the courage to share that life with me, and others! Thanks for being you, Meghan.

      Happy Holidays!

  2. Gordon U says:

    Dear Marissa,
    What a wonderful list it is true that we all take many things for granted in life and as we get older we start to develop a list of things we should not take for granted. A younger family member his wife and kids sent a christmas letter this year, it started off almost like a letter to Santa, from their kids. After reading the first couple sentences of the letter I stopped went back and really read who the letter was to not Santa, nor Family, or Friends, the letter was to Death. We have lost several family friends this year to slow but expected deaths as you are now experiencing and I feel for you it is very hard and drains ones emotions to the point of extreame tiredness. His letter however did not relate to a slow or expected passing but sudden and unexpected death which brings brings me to the number 1 thing we all take for granted and never should LIFE. He said in the letter that they first really met when death came and took his mother 3 years ago in less than 24 hours than this year with a friends brother and the dads of a couple other friends all suddenly than you almost took my uncle… I was in the er for that one trust me we all take one thing for granted that can be gone in an instant. So my #1 on the list of things not to take for granted is LIFE. Someplace else on that list from watching my mom pass years ago are being able to keep down what you swallow, and having anything just taste good, I could add more but I need to get some sleep being a caretaker is hard I know getting someone else in and out of bed the bathroom or a chair may not sound like much but the emotional end is a lot. Gordon

    • marissa says:

      Hi Gordon!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to reply! I’m humbled by the reminder of all the loss you’ve had in the last years. It’s a helpful reminder that things could always be worse… Thanks for sharing your experiences – I have had a similar one. When my brother died, the seat of my pants really got kicked. No longer was I able to continue with the lifestyle I was in. No longer could I cut myself off from my emotions, from all the important parts of life, like spending time with good quality people (like you!). The story of the Christmas letter is really something. Wow – what an incredible wakeup call. Bless that family member for taking the risk to really be honest about their lessons & gifts from facing the death in your family.

      My heart goes out to you with love & support during your grieving & time of loss this past year. Thanks for this heartfelt reminder about the #1 important thing we each have – being alive. Call anytime, and I will try to call you!

      I send you a gigantic virtual hug!

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