I fear I’ve reached the age where the deaths of friends and acquaintances are becoming frequent, where aches and pains, real or imagined, occur daily, in my own body, my friends’ bodies as well. I’m not sure how to deal with this shift; for sure, I don’t like it.

Today, I’m invited to a party, a celebration. My hostess told me that while waiting for her mother at the doctor’s office, she came across the obituary of a man we knew. He’s the second or third peer who has passed over the last year. “I’m tired,” my friend said, “of running into people I used to know at the funerals of people who are my age. It’s time to celebrate life.”

In December, another friend had a medical crisis. The reality of her situation and the recent news of death has caused a bit of reflection. This awareness of the thin lines between health and illness, between life and death remind me to be thankful. Not just at the beginning of the year with resolutions and lists, not just because someone I cared about was ill, but because I want gratitude and celebration to be constants in my life.

I believe each of us has to take some sort of recap of our lives, whether it’s prompted by year end, the new year or learning that someone you knew has passed on. We should do it often—a reality check and a declaration of gratitude. So thinking about this celebration of life I’m invited to, I reflect back on 2010 and some of the things I’m grateful for.

1) For closets and drawers full of clothes and clean underwear. There are those who have nothing to put on their bodies, and sometimes no one to care that they don’t.
2) My first novel was published!! In bookstores I saw MY book, MY name on its spine and cover. My spirit feels settled in my passion—my love of reading, of creating stories like I did so long ago. Book 2, PASSING LOVE, due out in January 2012. An opening . . .
3) My sister. My mother, vibrant still at 88. She attends all my local readings. If her knees and back worked better, I know she’d be with me on every flight, right there in the audience, my anchor. If I were on Oprah, she’d be in the audience, asking that famous woman what took her so long to get me on her show . . .
4) The joy of positive, supportive people. I’ve rediscovered old acquaintances and friendship from all corners.
5) For the lesson of minding my money and asking questions when people want to spend it . . . ‘cause ain’t nobody gonna worry about your nickels and dimes, quarters and dollars, except you—ENUF said.
6) I’m learning to pause, to observe my breath, my heart beat, the joy that resonates in my spirit . . .
the cookie, the peanut brittle, the cake crumb
the hot tea, the latte
the 5’oclock glow of the setting sun
laughter
a good meal
leaves on the ground
silence
my next breath . .

What’s on your list?