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An Attitude of Gratitude For What Could Have Been


Growing up as a military kid, we moved a lot. Sometimes my family was without a house in the transition from base to base, place to place, but only for a few days. “Home is where your mom lives” reads a sign I bought for my mom that hangs on her wall. She roots me. I acknowledge my blessings of having her in my life, with awareness that not all people share or relate to my story.

As an adult though, I was once without a home when my husband lost his job, our sole income, and then he unraveled. We vacated our employer-owned house where we were living with our children. On the day of our departure, he allowed stress to overcome him. He unleashed by assaulting me, and then abandoning us. At the time, we lived in a different place far from friends and family. I remember driving to the gas station, not knowing my next step. A man, perhaps homeless, approached me and asked me for money. I responded to him, annunciating each word probably more than needed, “My husband just left me homeless and I do not know what to do.” He responded with a kind voice, “There’s a place down the street where you can go for help. I’ll give you the name and address.” I nodded numbly and kept filling my tank with fuel. Being homeless was forced upon me suddenly, and I felt terrified. Humiliation, fear, and hurt overwhelmed me. My mother mobilized immediately and retrieved us, but not before I noticed my youngest child pulling out hair in distress.

A friend offered lodging, where we lived in a 1-bedroom place for nearly a year until I got on my feet. I was able to pivot, but how different my story could have been without the resources (money, time, donations) my friends and family had to help me. Though I am resourceful and resilient, I recognize my fortune in having others uphold me in my most needed hours.

My same child who pulled out her hair that day holds special space in her heart for the homeless by handing out food packets (granola bars, bags of nuts, etc.) to those she sees in need. What are the stories for those people in need who experienced her kindness? How closely might their stories resemble parts of my story or yours?

I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude for what could have been, but isn’t. Do you?


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