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Karen Kurycki
Karen Kurycki

Yes, There ARE Many Things To Be Thankful For In 2022

And here are just a few of them. Maybe you feel the same?

After decades of marriage, three kids, the death of a parent and a beloved aunt, the passing of pets and friends, job transitions, amazing vacations and less-amazing ones, it's easy to grow complacent. Easy to take life for granted. We all know it will end, but we're pretty sure it will go on for a while. Most of us don't really appreciate what we have — until it's gone.

But believe me, we should. I've written this (below) before but I believe it bears repeating. Life can turn on a dime. I'm proof of it.

Just a few days after my 10th birthday, my maternal grandparents were killed in a car crash. They had just been to visit me and my mother in St. Louis and were driving back to their home in Washington, a small town about 50 miles away, when they were struck by a truck. These were the years before wearing a seat belt became a habit (and mandatory).

In an instant, my life and the lives of my family were rocked to the core, sending us on a vastly different trajectory that led us far from the backyard croquet, church dinners, and cornerstone of care that had characterized my childhood.

Fast forward about 25 years, and my mother — and best friend — died after a long illness just when we thought she was getting better. This event, too, was intensely devastating, so much so that my emotions still bubble to the surface quite easily. Coming across my mother's handwriting can leave me on the verge of tears. And on occasion, I will reach for the phone to call her, only to suddenly remember she's no longer around to answer. Even now.

I'm not trying to bring anybody down. Many people have gone through far worse. And in between these great losses I married a wonderful man, started a family, and wrote five books. But what I wanted to say following these strange years of the pandemic, when one crisis has seemingly followed another, is that the one thing I know for sure is this: Life CAN turn on a dime — but in both directions. A week after the death of my mother, when I was so sad I could barely scrape my body from the bed, I got a call from my boss offering me my dream job: a foreign correspondent covering Latin America. I was going to refuse, but my husband pushed me: "your mother would have never wanted you to turn this down."

Of course, to many, the idea that "life can turn on a dime" is a precautionary phrase — one that's supposed to remind us that a potential tragedy is always lurking just around the corner, ready to strike and send us careening toward despair.

But I look at it a bit differently. Yes, life can rip the rug right out from under us when we least expect it, and the result can be unspeakable sorrow. The term, though, can also be one of hope. Even when you’re at your lowest point, something can abruptly happen that zaps your mood like quicksilver, from desperation to true joy. Horrible moments of injustice can, too, be turning points for real change.

Doesn't every day seem so much more intriguing when you consider that, at any second, your whole world can be altered instantly? Life is so precious and so profoundly fragile. How you handle loss and life is up to you, of course. But perhaps on Thanksgiving Day this week, wouldn't it be wonderful to take a moment to be completely grateful for a day during which something amazing, something surprising, something extraordinary may happen, leading to a string of incredible tomorrows.

As the editor of The Girlfriend, I can honestly say that I'm thankful for you all. Thank you for reading The Girlfriend and for being part of The Girlfriend community. I don't take you for granted. Believe me. And you can reach me any time at semling@aarp.org. I hope you have a meaningful holiday with family and friends.

And now here are some things our readers say they are thankful for this year:

"I'm thankful for so many things it would take me all day to list them. Some the number one thing is my kids and grandkids. Life would plain suck without them." — Diane

"That all me nieces and nephews are in town and I am grateful for the Buffalo Bills." — Kim

"Making friends as an adult is hard and I am thankful that I made a few new friends this year." — Gail

"Blood sugars are finally going down and stabilizing. I have an amazing boss who deals with all my time off for eye appointments. He gets it … he has vision issues too." — Janet

"I am grateful for the life I have had ... being in the last quarter of my life at 74... grateful for my 2 children and 4 grands and 1 great-grand ... I have not had it all, but some of it. I have a nice home, food, a car that still runs ... (lol) ... a puppy, plenty of clothing, a dinner out at times. I have some longtime friends from so many years back, have done vacations, have travelled a lot for work. I had a home office before it was a THING. God has blessed me with a good brain that took me far and I did it my way. I have had COVID twice, including right now. I took the vaccines. I was almost hospitalized but because of the vaccinations, I'm still here with God's grace." — Nancy

"That I have 3 healthy, well-adjusted teenagers (for the moment)." — Debbie

"The opportunity to become a full-timer at my job. It's been a long road getting there, but I think that the journey was completely worth it." — Michelle

"Looking at life in a different way, knowing I am worthy of success, and living a fulfilling life." — Mary

"Getting out of homelessness!" — Heather

"Being able to deal with my mental well-being. The struggle is real." — Ann

"I'm thankful I have a job and that my parents are still around." — Tiffany

"That I’ve never gotten COVID." — Kimberly

"I’m a thankful 16-year breast cancer survivor." — Terri

"Most thankful for the health of my family, including my loving dog and cat, a roof over my head!" — Maria

"Having the blessing of my 100-year-old father still sitting at our table (in excellent health)." — Cyndi

"I’m thankful my husband is still alive and working after having congestive heart failure and having to be on a ventilator." — Cathy

"Health! Mine and my family, friends and everyone, really. If you’ve ever had a serious illness, you realize that you wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy." — Janice

"That my parents never got COVID." — Laura

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