I can’t hold fear and gratitude in my mind simultaneously. This is something Yvette Francino taught me as we partnered weekly. It was a bigger lesson she was to learn while she watched her dear friend die.
I am regularly fearful that I am not doing enough. I focus on the meal I didn’t make rather than the 5 that were scrumptious. I list the article I didn’t write rather than mentioning the blog post that connected me to a new treasured client. As we met weekly to discuss our goals and progress, Yvette would ask me, “What do you think you did really well this week? What do you feel best about?”
Her two questions have transformed the way I live. Because they are questions steeped in gratitude, answering them has chased away a good portion of my fear. I cannot seem to focus on my fears and that for which I’m grateful simultaneously.
This point was driven home for me when I watched Yvette care for and, eventually, lose her treasured friend.
Most of us fear death, especially a slow death like ALS commonly known as Lou Gehrig”s Disease. It was the same for Yvette. But when she saw the 1987 film The Right to Die she was so upset she prayed she’d never have to see anyone experience such a horribly prolonged death.
Then she met Craig.
Every time she visited him, he had something new to be grateful for, even as he lost more function in his body. He couldn’t feed himself, yet he’d smile as the sun warmed his face when Yvette rolled his wheelchair outside. His voice no longer worked, still his love of music deepened.
On the ride home from her weekly visit with Craig, Yvette found herself marveling at the ability to scratch an itch or call one of her children to say, “I love you.” Craig was changing her perspective on life and it was granting her unparalleled freedom.
No longer was there a long list of complaints about the ways life was letting her down. Her prayers were filled with the abundance she felt even as a child when she didn’t want to leave anyone out. “Thank you for Daddy and Mommy…and Everybody.”
This hunger to leave no one out is what gave Yvette the idea to create a Thanksgiving recording for Craig. She had the names of everyone Craig wanted as his memorial service because he had been talking with her about his plans. So she simply contacted everyone on the list inviting them to make a short recording of why they were grateful Craig was in their life, or the impact Craig made on them.
She collected all the stories into one long audio file and played the recording for Craig on Thanksgiving just a couple weeks before he died. You can witness his reaction in the video below. Watch the final few seconds for his response to all those who participated in the project. The voices on the recording attest to the love Craig is speaking with his silence and why “perfect love casts out fear.”
When was the last time you were grateful you could heartily scratch where you itched? Thank a mosquito today for reminding you.
Yvette is the first guest in my gratitude series. I’m studying gratitude because I want to chase away fear. Please join me as I count down to November.
Yvette Francino is an IT manager in software development. She has worked for Sun Microsystems and IBM. She’s been a site editor for Search Software Quality.com. Yvette is the author of The Laptop Dancer Diaries, a book in which she shares her honest, hilarious and often embarrassing stories, about single life and the ups and downs of dating in the millennium.