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When I asked if I could write a blog about gratitude, I had a completely different idea in my head about how I would write it. I had so many ideas, but then my mother passed away suddenly recently, so this blog has become somewhat different for me. I hope I do it justice.

During times like Mental Health Month and World MS Day, it can be a reminder of the importance of self-reflection. Though still grieving, I have so many lovely memories of my mother to reflect upon. Talking with my family soothes my soul a little. We have laughed together, cried together, even been angry at times together. In saying all that, I am grateful that I had my mother in my life. She was a character. We fought like cat and dog, but nevertheless, we both really enjoyed it. She always had a glint in her eye. A sparkle. A kindness. She was all about my dad, her children, her grandchildren.

The grieving process is an interesting one. It reminds me of when I was diagnosed with MS, which hit me hard. Going from being me, to suddenly becoming a person living with MS was so overwhelming. It felt like I was drowning under the weight of information about treatment plans and the fear of the unknown. No matter how hard I tried to fight and kick to the waters' surface, the magnitude of realizing I had no control of this disease pulled me back under. All the dreams and plans I had evaporated. I felt completely alone. I have never known a fear like it. Was I going to be well enough to continue to parent my child? Was I going to end up unable to care for myself? In those early days, I was unable to rationalize anything. I reached out to my local MS society and that is where acceptance began. I will always be grateful to them for putting me in touch with an MS counselor who helped me on my journey. I met so many others with MS who bravely spoke out about their journeys. It gave me the strength to do the same. Life is what you make of it. MS has made me learn to fight, to speak out, to love what I cannot change. It has made me a better person, overall, because I have learned to see the positives.

MS has shown me how strong I really am; even in times when my MS was unstable, I have gotten back up and fought. In contrast, grieving the loss of my mom has made me feel very vulnerable and weak, but I now need to remember and celebrate her life. I take comfort in the fact that my mother was a devout Catholic. When somebody dies, some say, if it rains, a soul is happy in heaven and it has been particularly rainy lately. Though I am not religious, I do believe she is in Heaven. The rain has brought growth and new life, and nature is flourishing. I realized that despite my grief, the sun is still rising. The birds continue to sing and, somehow, this makes me feel less alone. The world is still turning. My favorite flowers (bluebells) are flourishing. Lambs are frolicking in the fields. Life is still going on around us.

When times are particularly hard, I spend some time relaxing and meditating, but if my house feels too quiet, I immerse myself in music. It has soothed and calmed me, as well as energized me. It has inspired me.

I have so much to be grateful for. Who would have ever thought an MS diagnosis would give me this fantastic platform to share my experiences with others with MS? Writing these blogs has inspired me to change my outlook on life. As the reader, you get to read about the good, the bad and, sometimes, even the funny. Even on bad days, I am always thinking about how tomorrow will be better. I had to become the positive version of myself, it is the version I like. Negativity is not part of me anymore because it’s toxic influence in my life had become all-consuming. I am grateful for my family, my friends (especially my MS friends) and, even though my mom has now passed, I am grateful that all the memories I have with her that will never die. She taught me more than a schoolbook ever could. She was always so patient with her children and grandkids. She made the best eclairs; which sold out immediately at any bake sale we ever had. I am also thankful she got to meet the newest addition to our family, Grace. She was so content in my mothers’ arms. Luckily, my sister took some beautiful pictures of them together. Rest in Peace mom. I miss you and will be eternally grateful for what you did for your family.

Some days may feel harder than others, especially when living with MS. It is important to find ways you can stay positive, even on a bad day. Read more about positive thinking with MS here.

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