Stephanie Burgis
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Anyone who's read my journal for the last year or two knows how much I love Thanksgiving - not the awful political history, and not even the traditional food, since I'm vegetarian (and never liked the taste of turkey even before that), but the holiday as it's celebrated nowadays, people who care about each other coming together without gifts or commercialism, just to be glad for each other's company in their lives. And I love having a day that forces me to think carefully about everything I'm thankful for in my life. So be warned - this is going to be a soppy entry! :)

Last year was our Year From Hell, when it felt like everything that could go wrong, did, culminating, most horribly, in losing Nika after a long, agonizing battle against her illness, consulting different vets who told us different things and having to make wrenching choices, some of which turned out well, and some of which, heartbreakingly, didn't. At this time last year, I felt so shaken and empty, I felt almost broken. I don't anymore, and I'm so, so thankful for that.

Here are some of the things I'm thankful for, and which helped me get through and rebuild after the Year From Hell:

  • Maya! We brought her home just a week and a half after Thanksgiving last year, and she changed our lives. She made us start laughing again, with her back-flips and belly-flops and general, lovable, slapstick silliness, and she's filled up our house with games and fun and warmth. Without her, when the CFS/ME came back a year ago, I would have had a really bleak, lonely time in an empty house during the weekdays. Having her has made all the difference in coping with the changes that the illness brought me, and she gives me companionship and love every single hour of the day. She didn't replace Nika in any way, but she mended our hearts and taught us how to be happy again, and I'm so thankful to have her in my life.

  • Patrick! It's been over 3 years now that I've been married to my best friend, and this year, when the illness turned our lifestyle topsy-turvy, I fell even more in love with him for his huge outpouring of support and love. He does all the housework nowadays, every daily hour-long dog walk, and everything physical that needs to be done in our lives, on top of his writing and his day-job - and yet he has never once complained or been anything but caring and loving and supportive. It's easy to be a great partner when things are going well - but it really says a lot to be a great partner when things go wrong. I am so, so thankful for my wonderful husband.

  • This journaling community! It's funny, back when I first heard about the concept of "blogs", I felt really wary and skeptical. I'd always been a private person, and I didn't understand the appeal of online journaling. Then I moved to England and spent about 6 months not knowing anyone else except Patrick, who was at work all day while I did my PhD research at home. I became addicted to the online blogs of a whole bunch of writers whose work I loved. Then I started my own blog, and the friendships that have come out of that are some of the best and most rewarding of my life. Journaling has brought me a sense of community that's just amazing, and in this last year, when I've had to deal with difficult life-changes and decisions, the support I've gotten from my journaling friends, in comments on this journal and in personal emails and phone calls, has taken my breath away. It was really brought home to me at Wiscon this year, when I celebrated my 30th birthday at the Dessert Salon, surrounded by people I love, some of the coolest and sweetest and smartest people I've ever met, all of whom I met through my journal. Thank you so, so much! I am so thankful for all of you guys.

  • Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! No matter how you're celebrating, or even if you're celebrating this holiday at all, I hope you have a wonderful day full of the people that you love.

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