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viewpoint

Be thankful

| Monday, January 26, 2015

As we all return to school this semester and our lives continue on, try to remember to keep your blinders off. Now it might be a bit cliché and a tad late, as Thanksgiving was a while back, but we all need to give thanks.

But this thanks-giving act should not be an empty one, for we cannot merely be thankful that we have it better than so many people on earth here in America and here at Notre Dame. No, that’s misguided. We need to be thankful for just having what we have, no matter what it is.

This past Thanksgiving was a very emotional day for all 19 aunts, uncles and cousins at the farmhouse in Wright, Kansas. To begin, these family gatherings are already so special to everyone involved, as evidenced by the stellar attendance from the extended family. I hold these gatherings very close to my heart because it is a time to see loved ones that I care about, but am never able to see. However, there was a certain weight looming over this dinner that became apparent.

This was the first year without the matriarch and patriarch of the family present, since my grandmother passed away this past April. Almost everyone was there, despite this possible excuse not to meet, showing that family still comes first. Before we ate dinner, we said our customary prayer and each separate family, in order of their oldest to youngest siblings, said what they were thankful for. And as we went around the room, I realized how special this Thanksgiving was and how blessed I really am.

The elephant in the room became even more prominent when it came time for my uncle and cousin to speak. I’m sure while he was speaking the whole family could not help but remember the tragedy that happened a little more than two years ago. His wife, a mother of three, committed suicide to the shock of everyone. Nevertheless, my uncle and cousin were there, praising the family for its support and being thankful for what they have. Through the myriad of problems (strained relationships, sadness, bad memories) a suicide brings, usually exacerbated by being around family, they were still thankful.

After my parents and I expressed our teary-eyed gratitude towards family, it finally got to my aunt/godmother’s family. I am very close to her, and we have shared some beautifully spiritual moments together that I think have made us grow immensely as people. But it was her turn now. Even after losing the company of my grandmother, whom she took care of for the past three years, even while battling ovarian cancer for the past two, she was thankful and happy.

Unfortunately, after being “cancer-free” for a short time, it has recently returned. Still, as she said quite eloquently, she is nevertheless grateful for the family that has supported her, for all the great experiences she has had and whatever the future has in store. She is okay with it.

The thought of her passing away and being all right with that is not only just so profound, but also a testament to how strong and faith-filled she really is.

It moved me easily enough, but it was the first time I’ve ever seen her husband tear up. And with all these melancholy topics floating in the room, it was only appropriate the circle of life be completed. As the last giving of thanks, my godmother’s newlywed daughter told us that she was pregnant with her first child! It’s funny how it all works out.

I am so lucky and blessed to have a family such as mine. Now, I realize that people might not have what I have, and there might be those who struggle day in and day out more than I do. Nevertheless, I believe it’s essential to a happy and fulfilling life to be thankful. I thank God for my family. I also thank God not for the hardships my family has endured, but for the fact that we have overcome them and grown closer. But giving thanks isn’t dependent on a belief in God; it’s realizing that we are blessed with life. Remember to keep those blinders down: We’re here and we’re alive. Be happy!

Andrew Martin

junior

Knott Hall

Jan. 23

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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