Happy Thanksgiving! Celebrating holidays far from home is one of the hardest parts of expat life, but this year I am so thankful for friends who are like family and for the opportunity to participate in three separate Thanksgiving celebrations over the next few days. I also wanted to say that I am humbled and thankful for the kindness many of you have shown over the past few weeks here in the blogosphere. You have inspired me.
Every Thanksgiving for the past few years I’ve shared this passage from Andre Dubus’ essay “A Country Road Song.” It is one of the most beautiful and moving pieces I’ve ever read. At the age of 49, Dubus suffered a devastating injury when he stopped on the side of the road to assist with a fatal automobile accident. While pulling the survivor out of the wreckage, he was hit by another car. He was injured so badly that he eventually lost one of his legs and was paralyzed in the other. Dubus wrote about the consequences of his accident in many of his essays, but this particular one is about his memories of running. I cry every time I read it because it overwhelms me that a man could feel and express this kind of intense gratitude in the face of such incredible and seemingly senseless loss. If you have a chance, you should read the entire essay because it is so much better than just this excerpt. I share this again today because it has changed me and because I hope it might also be meaningful to you.
“When I ran, when I walked, there was no time: there was only my body, my breath, the trees and hills and sky…I always felt grateful, but I did not know it was gratitude and so I never thanked God. Eight years ago, on a starlight night in July, a car hit me…and in September a surgeon cut off my left leg… It is now time to sing of my gratitude: for legs and hills and trees and seasons…I mourn this, and I sing in gratitude for loving this, and in gratitude for all the roads I ran on and walked on, for the hills I climbed and descended, for trees and grass and sky, and for being spared losing running and walking sooner than I did: ten years sooner, or eight seasons, or three; or one day.”
Andre Dubus, “A Country Road Song,” Meditations from a Movable Chair”