Channeling Gratitude Gives an Understanding of Purpose

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by Emily Wallis |

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I have a love-hate relationship with the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” I understand why people say it and what it means on the surface. But when faced with a disease like Sanfilippo syndrome, it’s hard to come to terms with it.

The “reason” part of this phrase is a load of you-know-what. There’s no reason for a disease like this. It will take the life of my sister, Abby.

I think the phrase should be, “Everything happens with a purpose.” All the obstacles that have been placed in my path have served a purpose in my life. Being Abby’s sister has made me a kinder person. My mom’s cancer diagnosis brought our family closer together. There’s no reason that justifies these things happening, but I recognize the purpose they have added to my life.

To reflect this week’s spirit of being thankful, I have to go back to March of this year. I was home for spring break during my last semester of college, and I was stressed. I had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever experienced.

Carrying resentment toward the world is no way to live. It’s like a blindfold that’s keeping you from seeing anything that could bring you joy. I wore that blindfold for a long time. I thought about all of the hardships that were thrown at me, and I refused to look at the good things in my life. Now I’ve learned to channel those feelings and bring them to the forefront.

I have so much to be thankful for in my life: the moments, people, and obstacles crossed.

To my parents: Thank you for always being selfless, kind, and supportive. I’m lucky to have grown up in such a fun and loving home, and I will never be able to thank you enough for all that you’ve done for me.

My extended family has been an incredible support system. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are so caring, and they know how to make me laugh. I always look forward to my time with them.

My friends are some of the best people out there. I bragged about them in a previous column, but I especially want to recognize two friends whom I treasure the most.

I met Emma in preschool. Though we never again attended the same school and we lived an hour apart, she has never left my side. We grew up together, and she gives me a sisterly relationship that I can’t have with Abby.

Gabby and I met in middle school, but we grew close during our senior year of high school. There aren’t words to express how important that was, given that she was there for many of the extreme lows in my life.

My friends and family have shown me kindness and patience when I needed it most. I have a lot for which to be thankful.

The holiday season is bittersweet because we can’t do a lot of the things that “normal” families do. But the joy I find each year is a testament to the people in my life.


Note: Sanfilippo News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sanfilippo News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Sanfilippo syndrome.


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