60 Weeks of Gratitude - Week 1
It has been a couple of years since I’ve managed a regular blog post. I haven’t felt that I had anything to say. I used to do book reviews for indie authors and that gave me something to talk about. I tried to talk about writerly things a couple of times, but honestly, there are a hundred people in my current circle who do that better than me. I tried to focus on self-promotion, talking about my books and encouraging everybody to read them. Well, that’s just an uncomfortable thing to do, and I didn’t have anything new to offer up, so I just let the blog go dormant. I had nothing to say.
I listen to podcasts while I am working and one of them struck a chord with me this week. It was about gratitude and how important it is to close the loop of appreciation. For several days, that podcast has been sitting in my mind, hovering. There are things that I am grateful for that deserve to be acknowledged. With that in mind, I am going to try to restart my blog by doing a year or so of gratitude. It feels right to start it this week, the week of Thanksgiving.
So, this week, Week 1, I am grateful that I have this platform to share this story. I am grateful that this platform gave me this story.
In 1977, my family moved to Bushton, a small town outside of Charleston, IL. It was a village and there were three like-sized communities moving away from the larger town, Fairgrange, Bushton, and Rardin. They were hard-luck towns. Everybody who lived there had some hard-luck story that landed them on the outskirts. Bushton was filled with kids, more my brother’s age than mine, but kids all the same. It was the 1970’s and we spent our days outside, riding bikes and free to roam as far as we could get as long as we were home for dinner.
I listen to podcasts while I am working and one of them struck a chord with me this week. It was about gratitude and how important it is to close the loop of appreciation. For several days, that podcast has been sitting in my mind, hovering, and there are things that I am grateful for that deserve to be acknowledged. With that in mind, I am going to try to restart my blog by doing a year or so of gratitude. It feels right to start it this week, the week of Thanksgiving.
One of my friends during those years was a girl named Donnie. She was dark-haired and dark-eyed, and if I remember correctly, she had a smattering of freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her imagination was as big as mine and we created great fantasy lives far away from the backyards where we played. It seems that we were friends for several years. Looking back, though, I know it couldn’t have been more than one or two. The details are all a little blurry now, but there was the loss of a parent, maybe a separation before, and Donnie and her family moved out of town. I never saw her again. I heard rumors that they had moved to another small town and that her father had died. This was a time before the internet, so I had no way of finding her to stay in touch.
She has lived in my heart all of these years and it seems that at least once a year I would search the internet looking for her, wondering how her life has turned out. She made a significant impression on me and it has always felt like a loss that I couldn’t locate her. I found a man on Facebook with her brother’s name and reached out. It was not him. He did not know Donnie.
Last weekend, I got a message from a visitor to my website, as I sometimes do. The message was very short, it made clear that the visitor didn’t want anything but to ask a question.
She said, “We grew up together in Bushton.” Which was really, “Are you my friend Angie?” Then a second message came, this time the user had added their name. Donnie. She said, “You used to write about horses all the time.”
Of course, I knew this had to be my friend from all of those years ago, because yes, I did grow up in Bushton, and yes, I did write about horses all the time. I responded, hoping to open a connection by sending an email directly. I have thought of this girl throughout my entire life and have hoped that she found peace and balance in a world that, I felt, started her off twelve paces behind the starting line. A day passed and another message appeared. It provided no answers to my questions, but simply said, “I am so happy for you.”
That was it. No further messages have come in and she has not responded to my email. But what a gift to know that this friend, who I have thought of for so many years, is at least still alive. I would love to hear from her again, and I hope that if she reads this, she will understand that.
So here on the first week of talking about gratitude, I am grateful for living in an era where we are able to be connected to people who are far away. I am grateful that Donnie found my website and that she reached out because it made me happy to hear from her.
We all have people like Donnie, who impacted us in profound ways but were only in our lives for a short period of time, maybe it was a friend, maybe it was a teacher, maybe it was somebody that you shared a flight with and never saw again. I have several people in my life like that. Consider reaching out. I bet there is somebody out there who would be very happy to hear from you.