I'm grateful for my mom and dad. They're old and difficult and broken in a way that can't ever heal by my brother's death. We fight. I'm not nearly as patient as I should be with them. I want to do better, but I haven't. And it kills me to see their health degrade, to see them sick and in pain. But they love me unquestionably in their imperfect way, the way I love them unquestionably in my imperfect way. We do the best we can, the three of us. And for that I'm grateful.
I'm grateful for my brother. I'm grateful that he lived, if I regret every day the way he died. I still sense him here, can nearly hear his great, booming voice and feel the way he he would wrap me in a hug, putting his whole big body and sprawling soul into it. Every once in while I still miss him so much it doubles me over. But how very, very lucky I am that I was Gunnar Shroyer's sister. I'm so grateful for that.
I'm grateful for my friends. The ones who've come into my life after the end of my relationship with T, the ones I'd lost touch with have who re-entered it since and the ones who have been here forever, it seems, helping me navigate the crests and troughs of healing. This is one of the most difficult stretches of my life and it's because of you that I'm making it through. I hope you know how much I love you. For each of you I'm so very grateful.
I'm grateful for the wild. For the mountains and forests and streams. For the paths that cross them, where I've felt a peace I've found nowhere else. Those three days last month I spent hiking the Appalachian Trail were some of the best of my life. How is possible that at 50 I've discovered this lust for the wild, this strong, steady need to wander it, to explore it, to pull it close it around me, like a lover or a gown of silk? I think this love, like all great loves, will take me somewhere I couldn't imagine when I first started to fall.
I'm grateful for writing. It's hard. It hurts. But every once in a while, when I know that I've written something of beauty that might make someone feel not quite as alone as they did before they read it, I think there's a chance my life might just have meaning.
I'm grateful for every single fucked up man I ever lowered myself to let inside my heart and head, because you've shown me what I don't want ever again. I'm grateful to every single man I've hurt, because you deserved better, and you've shown me who I don't want to be. I'm grateful for the sound of a train coming slow on the tracks, for good vodka and fast cars with stick shifts, for the candles I've lit in the cathedrals around the world for my brother, for hot sunshine and cool sheets, for the scents of lemongrass and lavender, and patchouli, too.
I'm grateful for high heels, even though I shouldn't be, and great jazz, for the taste of dark chocolate speckled with sea salt, and the feel of champagne tickling my tongue. I'm grateful for sex, hot and fast or long and slow, and how my appreciation and need for it has only deepened with age. I'm grateful for the pleasure I'm discovering in working my body, in feeling it sweat and stretch, and that it's still healthy enough to do everything I ask of it.
I'm grateful that I'm starting to believe I've still got a little bit of shine left in me.
I'm grateful that I'm starting to believe I still got a great love ahead of me.
I'm grateful that I'm starting to believe life still holds the magic of sweet surprise.
11/26/2016 11:35:06 pm
Love this! And love you, Jill! Love your passion and compassion. There is so much loneliness. I am grateful you make me feel less alone....and more grateful.
11/27/2016 12:11:14 am
So grateful for you, Jill! And for your perseverance and growth! You inspire me on my own journey to healing. xo
11/27/2016 03:17:52 am
Absolute beauty. I love how you are grateful for things that we don't normally think about.
11/27/2016 06:37:19 pm
Keep shining, Jillie! I'm dancing to your music.
11/27/2016 07:18:11 pm
I always love reading your writing; I appreciate its authenticity, its realness. It reveals the evolution of your healing, and even if the journey isn't always pretty, I love what you are discovering about yourself.
11/28/2016 01:22:00 am
Sublime. Really. So simple yet deeply profound. Thank you!
11/28/2016 01:52:52 am
I adore you. Never stop writing, love.
11/28/2016 09:29:55 am
And I, Jill Gleeson, am eternally grateful for YOU.
11/28/2016 04:41:38 pm
I loved this. Thank you for reminding me to notice the beauty all around.
12/11/2016 06:58:47 pm
I think you are totally cool Jill. Keep on your Seven Summits mission and trek out to the Poconos for a Vodka sometime. 👍
12/11/2016 07:21:32 pm
Your story about your brother Wayne resonates with me as I too lost my brother, Wayne at the age of 43. His death was by suicide, hanging specifically and this left my family broken. As the oldest daughter of five kids, I tried to "fix" my family but it is not possible. I have learned to focus on my own family and with the gift of an amazing husband we have weathered the storm. I sincerely hope that you will be blessed with the live and support of family and friends.
1/9/2020 11:47:49 am
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Jill Gleeson is a journalist based in the hills of western Pennsylvania. She is a current contributor to The Pioneer Woman, Country Living, Group Travel Leader, Select Traveler, Going on Faith, Wander With Wonder, Enchanted Living and State College Magazine, where her column, Rebooted, is featured monthly. Other clients have included