GRATITUDE IN A POST-SANDY WORLD

The eastern seaboard of the United States has just come through a major storm and its after-effects. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without electricity and more are dealing with the results and damages.  More than a hundred people are reported dead.  Those of us who “only” lost heat, or electricity, or cell service or some work days/school days, are feeling pretty grateful and fortunate right about now.  And, considering that it is November, it is just about that time to start being deeply thankful for our blessings.

Yes, even if you are going through the turmoil and disorientation of a divorce.  This year, as always, I am collecting some of my favorite stories of the post-divorce possibilities. These are the stories that make me feel a sense of gratitude and hope. These are typically people who kept their wits about them during the divorce process enough to be civil adults with each other afterwards.  (The names are fictitious, the stories are true.)

“Rickey” owns a restaurant in town. A few days after Hurricane Sandy I saw him at work looking unshaven and a more bedraggled than usual.  I asked if he had electricity and water at his house.  He said he did not; he lives in one of the towns near here that spent a few days with 100% of its citizens in power outages.  But, some of the guys at his place had been able to find him a generator that very morning.

“I bet you are excited to get home and get it juiced up,” I said. 

He chuckled, “not quite,” he said.  “I had them bring it over to my ex-wife’s house, so she and the kids can use it.  I’ll wait until they go out tomorrow, and see if I can go take a hot shower while they are out.”

“Annie” hosts her family for Thanksgiving every year. She and her two sisters rotate who hosts each of the major family holidays, and she is always happy to have a large crowd for Thanksgiving.  Being the youngest of the three sisters, her children are also the youngest of the 8 cousins and they get very excited to have all of their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents at their house for the day.

This year, the divorced middle sister is bringing her new fiancé, which surprised me, since I know that the kids all love her ex-husband, Uncle Mike.

“Oh, Mike will be there, too,” she told me. “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without his pumpkin pie.  He is very happy for my sister that she is moving on in her life, but none of us sees any reason why that should mean we lose Mike in the process.”

“Brandy” lives in my neighborhood with her husband “John,” John’s 11 year old son “Johnny” from  his first marriage, and 3 year old “Alyssa” – Brandy and John’s daughter.  John’s first wife, “Tracey” lives in an area of our town which lost their power for 6 long days.  On Halloween night I was out trick-or-treating with my kids when who did we see going door-to-door together but Brandy, Johnny, and little Alyssa, all in costumes.  Alyssa was being carried by a woman in a witch’s costume, so it took me a moment to recognize her.  But, of course, it was Johnny’s mom – Tracey.  Alyssa calls her Aunt Tracey. She ate most of her meals and took most of her showers at Brandy and John’s house the week she had no electricity at home. So, it made perfect sense for her to be out in our neighborhood carrying Alyssa from house to house helping her collecting candy and treats.

For more of these anecdotes, please visit my post at http://www.blogsondivorce.com.  And may you and your loved ones be inspired this year to think not only of your divorce or separation in November 2012, but of all of the Thanksgivings, and Halloweens, and even hurricanes to come.  Those of us who survived this storm have a unique opportunity to recalibrate our priorities right now, and to rethink what the words “family,” and “emergency” and “necessity” truly mean.

WHAT WE LOVE:  The rewards that come from doing the right thing, even when no one would blame you for doing the wrong thing.

Published by Sharon Oberst DeFala

Sharon Oberst DeFala has practiced low-impact safe divorce since 1992.

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