Living with Gratitude: Six Stories of Hardship

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I am inspired, grateful, and humbled today. I am thinking about the hardships that people in my life have overcome or continue to battle. There are six stories that are weighing heavily on my mind today.

The first is about a grandmother of cute five year old, fair-skinned girl I met at the pool. I mentioned to her that her granddaughter was quite a swimmer. She explained to me that the little girl could not do any athletics except swimming or get her temperature up because she has hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, a condition in which she can’t sweat or cool down. Her parents both carried a gene for it unbeknownst to them. The little girl needs to soak in a tub each night and after a special lotion is applied to her layered skin. I watched as the little girl happily snuggled into the towel her mom held out as she got out of the pool. The three giggled away and you’d never know by looking that this this family knows hardship.

The second story is about the woman ringing me up at Wal-Mart. She looked solemn and when I said, “Rough day?” She told me her husband’s diabetes had just taken his leg. She spoke of their struggle to make ends meet and coming to terms with this new loss.

Third, a mom from my hometown with a sweet, talented daughter that should be off starting college life is at home in treatment for her diagnosis of cancer, specifically neuroblastoma. It has made its way to her bones…chemo, hair loss, and bone marrow transplants are her life right now. Yet, she and her mom inspire with updates and posts that uplift so many with their faith, strength and determination.

Fourth, a former neighbor and mom like me with two sons and a loving husband battled and actually is extraordinarily a survivor of pancreatic cancer. She was the most positive breathe of fresh air despite this death sentence of pancreatic cancer, and miraculously she beat it. She never seemed to let on to there being any other alternative. I still cannot believe she did it and how powerful and optimistic a woman she was and continues to be.

Fifth, a home fire burned down a loved one’s home to the ground just two months ago when I had just been over earlier that day. Her husband was working that night and she, her mom, her three kids, and her daughter’s friend all made it out safely. However, nothing was salvageable from the fire and their two dogs unfortunately hid in fear and they lost them as well. Now two months later they are still working on getting a house and putting their life back together, but the outpouring of love and support for them has and is making their journey back to normal one filled with gratitude.

Lastly, a man we care about seemed to have given up on trying in life. He stopped working, was unable to pay his bills, had been on meth, and resorted to pawning his last valuables. He appeared to be losing his mind and has had no relationship with his son in this state. Getting help was brought to his attention, but he said that he didn’t need it, that there was nothing wrong with him. His worried family wondered how to help him out of this deep, dark hole. But, recently we heard that once he ran out of money, he began to seek a job after months of not working. He appears to be beginning to care again. We are hopeful.

I feel grateful for my family and the health, stability, and love in my family. I feel humbled by the experiences of these people. I am so grateful to watch people power through obstacles against all odds and inspire others in the process. I am so hopeful that those in dire straits can turn it around and be an inspiration to others by working toward overcoming their obstacles.

When I am having a rough day, there is always someone out there who has it so, so much worse. There is always a story to be heard. There are more stories of other journeys people are on or have overcome, but these six are on mind today.