The chances of you having life is one in four-hundred billion.  When I heard that statistic I remember a ball forming in my throat.  My mind went back to the day I met one girl that I had on my caseload as a young 24 year old Social Worker that will forever etch my heart.  Her name slips my mind yet I will never forget her spirit and her story.

She came to the foster home I was managing as part of an assessment and observation time to see if she was stable enough for a home-based level of care or needed a higher level of care. She was from out of state and her and her sibling’s story was that state’s worst documented cases of child abuse since that time.  I could barely read the words on her record’s pages, it seemed all like a horror movie.

As I spent time with her, I noticed the scars from the burns all over her body, the chipped teeth, the lack of eye contact- all signs of a very hard life over many years.  I was her fifth Social Worker and she didn’t have any reason to trust me.

There was also a little spark inside of her.  A spark that screamed fighter, survivor, leader.  She had many obstacles to overcome yet her spirit let that become her purpose, not her anchor.

It was the first time I had heard the term “Thanks-Living”.  She shared with me that through all she had endured, she was grateful for her life.  She understood that what happened to her was not her fault yet the questions of ‘why did it have to happen’ still came bubbling to the surface through sobbing tears.   In her pain, she spoke gratitude.

Grateful to be with a caring team, grateful for shoes that fit her, grateful for pillows, blankets and clean sheets, grateful for kind words spoken, for boundaries and safety.

I think of her often during the Thanksgiving season as I recall her never having a traditional meal before.  Watching her have her first experience of that holiday put a lot into perspective for me.  A lot about how as a community it takes simple actions to live a life full of “Thanks-living”.


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