Choosing Gratitude This Year – Really!

by | Nov 25, 2020

Above: Another thing I’m grateful for this year: finishing the North-South Trail (aka my ‘march to the sea’) earlier this month.

There is something so wonderful about gifts that simply fall out of the air and into your lap. Yesterday I got a couple of those – several actually! It was a pretty obvious signal I needed to take notice of the good things happening right in front of me. 

Even in this year, 2020.

I am so often looking ahead instead of at the right-here-and-now. I know we are all eager to return to “normal” but somehow I’m pretty sure we need to wring all the good out of this particular moment. 

I learned that lesson in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Women and Infants Hospital, where our youngest child, James, spent the first four months of his life. 

There was the time, very early on, where the nurse was excited to tell me James had taken 5 ccs of nutrition through the feeding tube that had been placed in his belly the day after he was born. James was born with an unconnected esophagus so this was how he would get his nutrition until he was connected and able to take everything by mouth. I remember thinking, 5 ccs? That’s a teaspoon (I had to look it up). We were supposed to be psyched for one teaspoon of liquid?

James loving life. Sandy Point, Nov. 8, 2020.

Turns out, we were. 

Then there was the time at the NICU when James’s nurse asked if I wanted to give him a bath. Of course I wanted to. So, we set about preparing – the nurse instructing and me following along as we detached James from most of the tubes and wires that were his second skin. It took a while. The feeding tube was detached but not the suction tube that went down his nose and into the top part of his esophagus, the pouch that went nowhere. He needed that suction tube to prevent normal sections (i.e., spit) from building up and then falling over into his airway. 

Sometimes the tube would clog. We’d find out the hard way because James would turn blue. Then the battle was on to get him extra oxygen and clear the tube. So, that tube stayed in. 

The whole process took around 25 minutes to prepare for but James finally made it to the sloped-back baby bath, and I was washing him, something I’d done for both of our older children. Then James’s tube clogged and we had to move him quickly back to the crib and work to clear the tube. Part of me, feeling discouraged and a little scared, couldn’t help thinking, “That was a lot of fuss and for what?” 

Some days later, when another baby in the unit died, I started to feel differently. As I had washed my tiny son, for brief moments I could block out all the noises and other babies and nurses and doctors and imagine James and I were at home doing this. If he had been the one to die, that would have been the only bath I ever got to give him. It helped to ground me. It helped me to appreciate each moment. 

I wish I could say that moment changed me forever. It didn’t – but it did help me to get through hard times. We’ve had a lot of them with James. He is 23 now and his lungs aren’t good. COVID would be pretty terrible for him, I’m sure. So, the arrival of the vaccines, that’s one thing I’m very thankful for as I write this. 

Scrolling through my gratitude files, I’m also thankful for the gluten-free chocolate-almond torte that arrived in the mail yesterday from our daughter (my husband has celiac). She and our other son and their partners were to be with us for Thanksgiving but well … COVID. The special delivery baked good was such a sweet gesture it made me cry.

I’ve got additional gratitude to spread around for everyone who is donating to EG News during our NewsMatch giving program. And for all of our readers. Being the editor of EG News can be lonely – I don’t have a newsroom full of colleagues to talk with – so knowing you all are out there is a wonderful feeling. And getting EG News to the point where we have a national organization (the Institute for Nonprofit News) matching our donations – that’s really amazing! 

Another bunch of people to be grateful for is the EG News board. It’s a small crew (looking to grow in 2021!) but I know they have my back and that means a lot. I’m very grateful that Lisa Sussman has stepped forward to lead the board. Her many talents and love of local news are already proving wonderfully helpful. Then there are the contributors and the helpers behind the scene, in particular ML Formisano, who makes every day better for her work for EG News. 

More gratitude for town and school employees and elected officials who make time to talk with me, explain things, set me straight when needed, and sometimes point me in the right direction. We are not colleagues, but you treat me with respect and that goes a very long way. 

Finally, my biggest thanks goes to my husband, Neal, who is unfailingly supportive of me. And my children, Catherine the baker and my frequent proofreader; Aidan who is happy to talk through any number of town or school issues; and James, who truly lives like every day is a gift. They are my ultimate backstop. 

Happy Thanksgiving, East Greenwich! May you find comfort and joy with your backstop, whoever or whatever that may be.

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Johann Patlak
Johann Patlak
November 25, 2020 9:45 pm

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! We’re thankful to be living here and so very grateful to have reliable and responsive local journalism just a click away.

Lynn krim
Lynn krim
November 25, 2020 10:25 pm

Happy Thanksgiving Elizabeth! It’s a different one for me this year but I am grateful for the family and friends I have even if I can’t be with them this year. Thanks for all the work you do to keep Us up on things EG. ❤️

Mark Schwager
Mark Schwager
November 26, 2020 12:06 am

So glad to have you and EG News as part of our community.
The picture of James loving life at Sandy Point is a wonderful rainbow of joy.
Happy Thanksgiving 2020!

Holly Barton
Holly Barton
November 26, 2020 8:48 pm

Happy Thanksgiving Elizabeth. We miss East Greenwich and the wonderful people there
Holly Barton

November 26, 2020 10:06 pm

That was a wonderful warm hearted article. Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday. My daughter is gluten free too, so I’d be happy to share some goodies with you.

Laura Sullivan
Laura Sullivan
November 27, 2020 10:40 am

Elizabeth, you put your heart on your sleeve in such unabashed fashion, and we are all touched by your perspective, even as we continue to cheer James on. Thank you so much for sharing your life, and your commitment to this e-publication that is truly a lifeline for what is going on around us, especially in these COVID times!

Dede McGuire
November 27, 2020 8:13 pm

Elizabeth. Thank you for such a heartfelt article, especially during this time when we/I need to reflect on what’s really important! It is so easy to get caught up in “stuff”…vaccine, virus, politics, riots, etc etc ..over none of which I have control! Your beautiful article reminded me to take a step back, “refocus” and say “thank you GOD!

Lisa Sussman
Lisa Sussman
November 27, 2020 10:05 pm

Thank you, Elizabeth. We needed that. It is always good to remember that we have much to be grateful for, and even more so now. It’s easy to get stuck in a sinkhole of despair. It takes effort to recognize what makes life good. The big stuff and the small stuff, and the everything in between. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Deacon ricky
Deacon ricky
November 28, 2020 8:17 am

Hello to you and East Greenwich correspondents. You and the paper share so much of the ordinary/extraordinary lives we have all experienced this year. Your sharing ties the community togetherness in this strange time of aloneness. Great stories, great people, and always there is James with his life of courage, adventure, and curiosity.

Paulette Miller
Paulette Miller
November 28, 2020 8:41 am

Grateful for holiday, as well as for today, and tomorrow – and for EGNews, the reporting, and the stories you share. You are an important part of our community connection, engagement, growth, sustainability. Seeing the photo of James, smiling, with the sun on his face – is beautiful! Gratitude has a power all of its own, doesn’t it? Backstops are so important. Thanks for the reminder. Best wishes.

Jennifer Gerich
Jennifer Gerich
November 29, 2020 12:08 pm

I love this article Liz, and the way you write and think. Happy Thanksgiving – xxo

Mary Louise Formisano
Mary Louise Formisano
December 1, 2020 8:40 am

Thank YOU, Elizabeth.

Paul Langhammer
Paul Langhammer
December 5, 2020 10:31 am

Elizabeth, you always evoke good feelings and good cheer. And it is nice to make it through another election with you, even via airwaves…

Elizabeth E Keithline
Elizabeth E Keithline
December 7, 2020 11:44 am

Thanks to you and your team for your excellent work!


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