21: Gratitude Regained

21: Gratitude Regained

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

Gratitude Regained

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

The pale light of dawn seeped through the floral curtains as I lay quietly in my bed next to my young daughter. The snowfall from the evening before had made it the perfect morning to wait until the furnace kicked on. I lay there and thought about the past few months. “I just can’t handle parenthood,” John had said as he packed his belongings.

Unpaid mortgage bills were piling up on my desk for a house that would not sell. I couldn’t see a way to turn my life around.

Then, despite the familiar sounds of rats in our walls, I drifted back to sleep until I was reawakened by a noise. It wasn’t the rats this time. I figured it was our cat.

I pulled up the covers, loving the moments of being half asleep, half awake. I heard what sounded like scraping metal. I didn’t want to get up to check on it. My daughter stayed sound asleep next to me.

For a moment, I allowed myself to be lulled back into a partial sleep. Then, a shot of icy cold shocked my body. The hair on my arms and neck stiffened. I sat up in bed. Full alertness came to me at lightning speed. I noted the cat was asleep on the bed. I turned toward the open doorway. A bobbing beam from a flashlight shone in the hallway. Someone was in my house.

I took a half-moment to question if I had the strength to handle this. Then my thoughts flashed forward to possible endings, and I made an inner declaration that enough was enough. I flung myself out of bed and charged for the door. “Who dares come in my house?” I said.

With full force, I met him at the threshold of my bedroom. I pounded on his chest and pushed him back. “Get out of my house!” I screamed over and over. He seemed stunned at first. Somehow, I had enough presence of mind to take mental notes of him. I would need that later to identify him to police. Dark-blue plaid wool coat. It was puffy. He must have layers underneath. That’s right. It had snowed last night. Navy knitted cap. White male, stocky. Latex gloves over knitted gloves. I had a moment’s recognition of the incredible danger my daughter and I were in, and somehow a new strength dawned within me.

Power surged through me — a power I had never known. I was aware of sparkling iridescent gold. I was a goddess, a vengeful goddess. I pounded on him and pushed him away. He took backward steps, moving away from me. I pushed on. He would normally be taller than me. But somehow I was towering above him. One foot, two feet, and then three. I was enormous. “Get out of my house!” I pushed him over the threshold of the front door. I slammed and locked the door, and then ran to my daughter.

In the moments that followed, I returned to my normal size. I phoned the police, who arrived in minutes with a canine unit. Although detectives worked on the case for several months, the man was never found.

What was found, however, was gratitude for my life. I made the best of a challenging situation and began to take steps toward greater joy. It took time and it wasn’t easy, but I persisted. I can’t explain the gold iridescence or how I grew so tall that I looked down on the man. I hadn’t experienced anything like it before, and I haven’t experienced it since. It doesn’t matter. Now I wake up in the morning grateful to face each new day.

~Kelly Rae

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