It's an old saying that's right on the money: Count your blessings.
I've been realizing my blessings with renewed intensity this week. Everyone in my family has. My cousin Sean, only 33, was in a terrible accident that he did not survive.
We were stunned when we got the news, and we have been reeling at the loss. We can't imagine the pain my aunt and uncle and cousins are going through, and we know the funeral, to be held two days after I submitted this piece, is going to be a difficult one.
Tragedy brings folks together and we certainly reached out to each other. We talked and commiserated and tried to make sense of something that never will make sense to any of us.
But the unpleasantness of the tragedy caused us to do something most of us fail to do: count our blessings.
There are 65 people in my extended family. At any given moment, someone is probably driving somewhere, and yet in my 43 years, this is the only auto tragedy to touch any of us.
In my life, I lost both grandmothers, my Uncle Mike, my Uncle Jimmy and now Sean. We suffered another tragedy when my brother-in-law's father died in a plane accident four years ago. As much as I miss them all, it's still amazing that my blessings outweigh my losses by overwhelming margins.
I have five sisters, five brothers-in-law, two parents, 17 nieces and nephews and two great-nieces. Nobody is suffering a life-threatening illness. Nobody has a health issue to speak of, with the exception of my father, whose issue, thankfully, is nearly behind him.
I think, too, of all the dumb things I did as a testosterone-crazed teen, how I used to see how fast the car would go, or how I'd re-create the Jim Rockford maneuver, burning rubber down the road. So many things could have gone wrong that never did.
Some 20 years ago, my sister Kathy and her fiance were in an auto wreck, but neither was hurt badly, though they could have been. Their car was totaled, but they walked away. They went on to have three children and a good life together.
Every time you walk out the door every time you head on a trip it really could be the last time you walk out the door, the last trip, the last time your friends or relatives see you, or the last time you see them.
We know this in our bones, but we make an industry out of forgetting it. The tricky part of this life is in the remembering remembering how blessed we are when our blessings are right under our noses, remembering to dwell on what we have rather than what we don't.
That would make a fine New Year's resolution. Imagine that you are 100 years old, looking back on your life. Imagine thinking through all of the things you would have done differently.
Would you spend more time at the office or more time with your kids? Would you work harder at being kind? Would you spend more on charity and less going out to dinner? Would you make every effort to spend time with your friends and family and less time huddled in front of the television?
The answers would be obvious from the vantage of 100, but too many of us forget them daily as we stumble through life. We need to remember.
At 33, Sean was just getting warmed up. He was strong and athletic and had a handsomeness that caused women to swoon. He was close to his brothers and sisters and parents, and he doted on his daughter. He had so much yet to experience and give, and it makes no sense that he was taken so early.
Only one thing makes sense: Count your blessings.