By Grace Maselli
Gratitude. I aim to be mindful of it not just at obvious times, not only at positive turning points, but daily. But I have to admit, some days this mindfulness works more fluidly than other days. This past Saturday I rushed my 19-year-old son to the ER after a two-hour drive north from Tampa to Orlando where he was in final exams week for his first semester of college. He contracted an off-the-charts case of mononucleosis that otherwise “self-resolves,” docs were saying. When we got to the ER my son’s fever was 103.5 and his heart rate was 133, both high, but the latter especially so for someone only 19 years old. More technically, his hemoglobin levels were tanking as his liver enzymes climbed, which meant both levels were moving in the wrong direction. “You just got unlucky,” one physician was quick to point out as my son was hooked up to IV fluids and “broad spectrum” IV antibiotics while umpteen blood-related tests were being run. The antibiotics were for a co-occurring bacterial infection noted by white blood cells in his body where they ought not to have been. My son went from a bed in the ER to outpatient “observation” to full in-patient treatment over a five-day period.
From the start members of the Tampa Bay and Spring Hill, not to mention people from the St. Petersburg Timebank, had my back. At 4:30 a.m. on Saturday I sent the first email notifying members in Spring Hill that I had to cancel my participation later that morning as a volunteer for two hours with a yard sale, and a two-hour stint later in the afternoon with another member assisting with her home organization project. This tipped my member-friends to the unfolding situation and the support was forthcoming from there.
I received routine check-ins from TBT and Spring Hill through text messaging and email and across the entire arc of the experience. Within a day I had a no-cost place to stay in Orlando if I needed it. (As it turned out, the hospital generously let me bunk in the empty double-occupancy bed next to my son once he moved into in-patient care. Another beautiful and unexpected gift. Not mention the fact that my manager gave me the time away from work needed to be with my son.) I was immediately put in contact with other timebank members, including those from Pinellas, who have expert information on how to rebuild the immune system. I have an ongoing timebank-driven consult for my son on the best dietary choices as he moves to rebuild his “organic” immunity through his long period of convalescence. I even now have timebanking hours I can use for life coaching as we head into 2019 that comes directly out of this intense experience.
A Reminder to Keep a Look-Out for the Gifts,
No Matter Their Size
My intention is to fortify my daily practice of taking account with even greater presence of mind those things large and small that fill me with gratitude. From the gorgeous, nostalgic smell of crushed leaves wafting toward my nostrils as my bike ambles over them, to the news that my child’s fever and heart rate are beginning to normalize, and everything in between. I am equally fortified to return the favor, and have deeper compassion for my timbank posse. And to the physician who said to my son, “You just got unlucky,” I gently, meaningfully say to him through the finite, revisionist dialogue in my head, “‘Dear sir, au contraire.'”