Practicing Gratitude

I lost my father before I even had the chance to know him. Although I have no real memories of him, he managed to leave me with the greatest gift a father could give his child.

Practicing Gratitude Nichole Beaudry

The top was down on my father's convertible the day he died.

My mother remembers clearly that the warmth of the sun cut through the chill in the May air in Maine that day.

My father was 26 years old when he died.

"We can never know what life will hold

I was just two.

I always wondered what traits I inherited from him. Did I have his sense of humor? His ease in a crowd? In what ways did he shape the person I am today?

As it turns out, though my father didn't live to see me go to the senior prom, earn any of my degrees, walk me down the aisle or meet his two grandchildren, he did leave me with one tremendous gift... the ability to savor the small moments. To drink them in because life doesn't make us promises.

Learn more about living your best life>>

Memories... or a lack thereof

I have no memories of my father. All I have are memories of being told stories from those who loved him most.

When I think about the years leading up to my father's death, I wonder if he ever took his time with a single scoop of Rocky Road, his favorite ice cream? Did he savor the saltiness of the nuts, the airiness of the marshmallow and the richness of the chocolate?

Did he lay in bed late at night and truly listen to the sound of the crickets outside his bedroom window? Or did he think he had a lifetime ahead of him for all of that?

There is a sliver of time in the afternoon where the sun shines through the shower in my master bathroom, where the glass fractures the light and casts a rainbow onto the floor.

Perhaps five inches long, the rainbow is vibrant and clear, each color blending seamlessly into the next.

And each time I catch sight of that rainbow, it makes me smile.

Read more about finding happiness>>

Small moments

When I slow down to see those small moments, I do it for my father. I do it because he didn't have the opportunity.

I do it for my two children, so that they will learn to appreciate the gift of those small moments.

And I do it for myself, so that I can one day look back and know that I found endless beauty in life and that I was grateful. In the easy times and the tough times.

We can never know what life will hold, so I will walk slowly in freshly cut grass, stop to smell every lilac that I pass, inhale the smell of my freshly-bathed children and listen to the Dave Matthews Band with my eyes closed. And I will know that I have truly lived.

Won't you join me?

More on practicing gratitude

8 Great ways to give thanks
4 Steps to happiness
5 Easy ways to feel happier every day


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Comments on "Rocky Road and Rainbows: Losing a father and appreciating life"

stephanie elliot June 21, 2012 | 8:04 PM

Wow Nichole -- just read this -- it's beautiful.

Bod for tea February 14, 2012 | 11:44 PM

Wonderful words and such sage advice. Congrats again on your new column!

Lyndsey February 14, 2012 | 5:18 PM

Congrats Nichole! Can't wait to continue to read your beautiful words!

alexandra February 14, 2012 | 8:00 AM

Congratulations and this will be a perfect fit, an add to the balance that I find here at SheKnows. You know I lost my father at a very young age..and it leaves you different from others. You are the kid with no dad. I'm so happy that you have arrived at a place in your life where you feel so full that your heart could burst. Congratulations, Nicole, and my sincere wishes for you in all the writing you do.

Renee Schuls Jacobson February 14, 2012 | 4:10 AM

Nichole! This is so beautiful. I am so hapy for you and this new opportunity. I'm guessing your dad would be proud of his girl right about now. ;-) Odd to think you might have been a whole different kind of woman were it not for your father's early death. But you have become someone we all want to be when we grow up.

Jessica February 13, 2012 | 4:01 PM

I'm sorry you lost your father at such a young age but the positive is that you took something positive away from your loss. Not everyone can do that.

Sherri February 13, 2012 | 3:15 PM

Beautiful, as always my friend! So very happy to see your words over are the perfect addition.

Yuliya February 13, 2012 | 12:40 PM

Such a lovely first post and a glimpse of what is to come! Thank you Nichole for sharing the beauty of small moments with all of us.

Cameron February 13, 2012 | 11:04 AM

I tihnk we can all use a reminder to slow down and be aware of our gratitude more tangibly. Can't wait to see where you go from here, Nichole.

Sherri February 13, 2012 | 10:55 AM

Lovely, lovely story...and we all need to appreciate those small moments where we can! So wonderful to see your beautiful words over here, my friend!!

Debi February 13, 2012 | 10:30 AM

I love this. We all need to enjoy these small moments,these tiny things that we rush through in life and take for granted. Life is short and we should enjoy every single moment of it. Thanks for the reminder.

Deb at San Diego Momma February 13, 2012 | 9:49 AM

I love how this is written and what it reminds me to do. I can't imagine losing a parent so young, but I'm so happy for the life lesson you gained from your dad's early death. My mom passed away at the age of 56, and I know all too well how short life can be...

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