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Its not the big things but the million little things

By Ashley MatteiPublished 3 years ago 7 min read

What is the saying "when one door closes another one opens"? Or when something bad happens to you people say "everything happens for a reason"? These are things we hear from other people when they feel like we could use a pick me up right? Right. It is about perspective. It is about changing ones perspective.

This year has been trial after trial and struggle after struggle for the majority of this world with Covid-19 hitting hard and taking lives like its number one mission was death. To look at this year at a glance you might think that it was just negative, nothing positive about it. It took until around September of this year to realize that I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season but if you were to ask any of my friends they would say our family was cursed this year and not just with Covid effects.

In March of this year like everyone else we started to experience the impact of Covid and what living through a global pandemic would start to feel like. We started to fear for our colored friends and family as we saw a rise in racism across the country. We feared for our country as we witnessed a huge divide that already existed grow wider. All things we were experiencing, everyone in the country was experiencing in one way or another. In June we suffered another loss in our family. You see my 10 year old son has had 26+ brain surgeries since he was 3 years old for a condition called Chiari Malformation and Hydrocephalus. We have to travel about five hours for his surgeries and after care but when we do we are always blessed to stay at the Ronald McDonald House where we meet other families like ours and where my son has made friends and specifically his best friend Lilly. Lilly was 11 years old and had the same conditions that Alex, my son has. Over the last 4 years they have gone through multiple surgeries together and had weeks of recovery time spent with one another. Lilly had a surgery June 8th of this year. A surgery that Alex has had 22 of. Lilly did not make it out of the operating room. There was a good group of us that would usually be at the house at the same time for more than a couple of times so we grew into our own little family. We call it our "Framily". Our Framily was shattered. Telling my son that his bestfriend passed away my heart had never physically hurt so much in my life. Driving 10 hours south to Virginia to her services a week later and holding my friend in my arms as she cried over losing her daughter is a pain I could never explain to anyone. Knowing she is living my worst fear, I could never explain how much I hurt for her. Driving home from services I felt my body and mind start to shut down and as soon as I saw my wife I just collapsed and felt paralyzed. I couldn't even look at my son without crying. I took a shower to help feel better and just dropped to my knees and cried. So this is what a mental break down feels like. I struggled to find a positive, or strength or anything but grief. Nothing made sense.


My wife later that month was diagnosed with her second round of thyroid cancer. 28 years old, 1 1/2 years after her first diagnosis and surgery and a almost 0% chance of it coming back and bam! She was something unexpected. Something crazy. Something I did not know existed in this world and not only does she exist in this world but she exists in my world and now she has this sickness that I cannot help fix. She ended up having another surgery and they got it all. All of it. No need to even have radiation.

A month later we decide to take the boys on a week getaway to the mountains. Safety because we are away from crowds or people in general! And after the last month we all needed a break away from life. Our second day there I am upstairs getting ready for the day and go to check my phone to see my ex had sent me a text message saying that she couldn't talk right now but that her Dad had passed away that morning. Her Dad had been the boys "Papa" for the last 10 years of their life and my oldest is 12 years old. He was the only consistent person who has never let them down and telling them broke me. At first I said to myself and my wife I would hold off on telling them until we got home in a few days but as soon as I started to tell her I lost my mind and could not stop crying. I knew as soon as the boys saw me I would not be able to keep my emotions in as hard as I would try. So lets keep them coming 2020.

School starts and we are fully remote. Most of the country is either remote or some sort of hybrid model. Our district is in fact hybrid however, with the high risk to our youngest sons health and then my wife's health after her cancer battle we decided it would be safest for all of us if we chose to be fully remote. Not only did this decision keep our boys at home and safe which is great. This decision also kept our boys from seeing their friends, participating in school activities and events and other things that was complete self care to them. The struggle on their mental health this school year has been at an all time high.

And the cherry... a job I held for almost 6 years I was forced to quit. And when I say forced I don't mean had a gun held to my head as yes it was ultimately my choice but I had good reason. For the last three years in this position I have been told by more than three different supervisors or managers that I will be supervisor or I will be able to do this I just need to hold on a little longer. I hold on and crickets. I was moved from a level I to a level II about 4 years ago because I got my second Masters degree and for a level I you don't even need a degree of any kind. Well while out on medical leave over the summer my position was posted and I was told that if I came back that I would drop from a level I to a level II and that would decrease my pay about $3.50. So after speaking with multiple different people and getting pulled in different directions I quit. I know my worth and its more than that and it took me a very long time to get to a point where I can comfortably say that about myself.

So fast forward to now, writing this. You might think it would be hard to come up with anything to be thankful for but after really thinking about it, this year I find it easier than any other year to recognize what I am thankful for. Losing Lilly hurt so much but made me realize how thankful I am to have Alex here and his two brothers. It also made me realize how thankful I am for my "Framily". Seeing so many of us travel across the country to be there for her family at the services was special feeling and something to be thankful for. My wife going through cancer again and the surgeries really makes me thankful for her and what we have together. It makes me evaluate how I am with her and how I am with my family and if anything bad were to happen would I have regrets. When the boys lost their Papa it made me wish I had taken them over to see him more and made me thankful for the friends and family we do see and the chance we have each day we wake up to regain those relationships we have lost over time since each day is a new chance. Not having a job at the moment makes me thankful for the time I am able to spend at home with my family right now. We may never get this amount of time at home again so we need to take the time now and eat up every minute of it! It is all about perspective.

Everything adds up to so many things to be thankful for. Going to the grocery store and coming home with exactly what was on the list. Thankful. Hearing your child read a story to you before bed. Thankful. Knowing you are all home under one roof. Thankful. Seeing a smile on your childs face when they got a 100 on their quiz. Thankful. The smell of sugar cookies baking in the oven. Thankful. The LED lights shining bright on my Christmas tree and its not even Thanksgiving yet. Thankful. So its not just the big things although they are wonderful too. Its the million little things we have to be thankful for.


About the Creator

Ashley Mattei

I am a 34 year old Boy Mom times 3! My wife and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary in October! Writing is a passion for me and I believe the best stories are told through experience!

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