Gratitude is a really hard concept for me. I tend to think of it as something put into motivational quotes or acceptance speeches. It feels formal, like something to be extended rather than felt.
I labored over this story. How do I mention someone without leaving someone else out? Am I thinking of a person or of a moment when I was very grateful? For someone who makes his way as a writer, I have rarely struggled so hard to string my words together.
There has been much debate over the years about when exactly life begins. All I can say is, though I cannot recall the exact day, my life began in 2005.
Three things happened to me that year: I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder; I met the woman who would become my wife; and I lived through Hurricane Katrina.
Any one of those could be the inspiration for numerous stories, but that’s not what I was asked to do. I was asked to share my best story about gratitude.
Learning how to live with mental illness is a challenge I continue to deal with, and I don’t think I’ll every truly be over Katrina because the reminders and memories are so present. Of the events that changed my world in 2005, none am I more grateful for than meeting my wife, Desiree.
I know how hard it is to live with bipolar disorder; I cannot imagine what it is like to live with someone dealing with it. I’ve never read a book or seen a television show or film that really depicts what a “bipolar” marriage is like.
It’s not easy for me, for her, or for our two children, but Desiree is so strong. Desiree is the one who was with me each day when I was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. She’s held my hand when I’ve spent the entire day in bed crying. She recharges herself each day – whether it’s been a good on or a bad one – not knowing which version of her husband is going to wake up next to her.
That’s where my gratitude lives. It lives in the form of this woman who chooses to love me. She chooses to stay with me and see where this ride takes us.
So, I remain forever grateful to Desiree Munoz-Grubb. Thank you for seeing in me that which I hide from others, including myself. Thank you for trying to understand things that even I can’t explain. Thank you for teaching me to have an “attitude of gratitude.”
Baton Rouge, Louisiana