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  • Heather Mistretta

Reflection: You Should Try It

Today is one of those days—maybe the most poignant example of this—that solicits such a wide range of emotions. Of course, I am not even going to pretend to know all of them. As one friend so thoughtfully put this morning (yes, this friend has a habit of doing that, and yes, she is an English teacher as well as an amazing human being), today is a good day to reflect on all that we are grateful for (yes, I ended my sentence with a preposition on purpose—there are plenty of other days to be so persnickety; today is a good day for letting go of judgment or whatever else weighs you down or others).

This morning before the sun rose, I was grateful for the aroma of good coffee, the reason why I’m lucid enough to write this. [One day last month on my circuitous quest to be healthier, silly me thought it would be a good idea to lay off caffeine, yet another stellar decision on my part that resulted in me forgetting my phone before leaving for my mentoring program in a school in Perth Amboy, which I had to find without GPS…which led to broken parking meters that I wasn’t able to bypass because I couldn’t access the app on a phone I didn’t have…which led to me not being reachable to my colleague and thankfully still my friend, who was locked by someone in a bathroom for 10 minutes].

But I digress…I was grateful for the pestering (funny how things can turn so rapidly from annoying to grateful) of one of my adopted puppies who persistently told me it was time to get up as she always does because the happiness she feels in the morning rivals any other display of happiness I’ve seen.

I was grateful for the sunshine once it rose and the cooler breeze that was blowing through my windows, bringing with it the melody of birds that subscribe to that same happiness as my dog does.

I was grateful for my son, Aidan, who was getting ready to catch a 5:30 am train to Manhattan for his graduate class. I am clearly biased and maybe a little egotistical since he did come from my womb, but he’s about as close to perfect as you can get. He has this inner fortitude that isn’t commonplace. He has resilience that’s backed up by an underlying layer of courage. He’s determined, and I wouldn’t recommend testing it. He’s compassionate without having to sacrifice his self-worth (something I’m still working on mastering). He has a sense of humor that sometimes sneaks up on you and other times frightens you and causes you to run for cover (kidding…kinda). And his inner beauty is reflected through his beautiful blue eyes that have eyelashes on top of eyelashes, much to the chagrin of many women, including me.

Aidan is also the reason why I was no longer in New York City on September 11, 2001. I left my job at Reuters in downtown Manhattan where I wrote about natural gas and electricity, along with my colleagues and friends I rode the ferry with every morning and evening, a year earlier when he was born. I kind of hate the trite saying, things happen for a reason, but maybe sometimes they do.

There are many things I forget from my past, some of which are probably buried for self-preservation. But I have not forgotten the harrowing stories my friends told me shortly after the devastating day. They are like tenuous cobwebs in the corner of my brain that no matter how many times you try to rid them, they always come back. And maybe that’s a good thing.

I am grateful for Jason, and all his kindness, patience, inner strength and at times, warped sense of humor that is diametrically opposite of his other self that is polite and caring. He has made a place in my heart where I thought there was no more room and where the closed sign was taken down. For that and a lot more, I am grateful.

I am grateful for my family and friends who have taught me so much about compassion and loyalty and unconditional love…and that sometimes it’s not evil to make fun of others so long as they can’t hear you and as long as you’re okay with making fun of yourself occasionally.

I’m also grateful for good food, music that transports you and inspirational words that leave a nice layer of comfort or wisdom in their place. I’m grateful for unexpected garbage picks, the smiles of strangers and children who know their worth. And I'm grateful for the solemn 9/11 Memorial Walk/Run every year in Belmar this evening.

I’m also grateful that I think I know how long most attention spans last.

So, alas, thank you, my friend. You were right, reflecting today was a good idea. I’m so grateful I did, and I’m so grateful for you.

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