My eldest son is now sitting in the front seat. He is old enough now. After I pick him up from school, I reach over and hold his hand in mine. He looks down and squeezes my hand back. I ask him about his day and he tells me while our fingers are tied to one another. A small connection is made daily and I am grateful. After a busy day at work, I go home and make dinner. We eat as a family and then I race out the door to roller derby practice. I pull on my skates and before I hit the track I hear the sounds of wheels taping on the sports court. I hear the women on my team catching up and laughing and I am grateful. Every day I work for orphans and widows. I send hundreds of emails and I make tons of phone calls. I tell their story. Sometimes, I hear their story in a new way. I hear the crunching of banana leaves and the voices of children laughing as they gather their clean water. I am reminded why I serve and I am grateful. I have a purple tree in my front yard. In spring it is green. In summertime it is purple and in the fall it is a ball of fire. It leans to one side and leaks gold sap that catches the sun and glimmers year round. It was almost ripped down by a tornado a few years ago. It doesn’t stand tall, it leans, but it survived like me and so many others and I am grateful. At the end of many days, I have girlfriends who sit in my home with a hot cup of tea in sweet antique china or tumblers of wine in their hands. We laugh and laugh until our sides ache. We plan things we have no time for and congratulate each other on the things we manage to complete. It is a good life when you never run out of good friends to drink with and I am grateful. My husband in a hushed voice asked me to come upstairs this evening. Under our bed, he had stashed candy our children had been given during one of 20 Halloween events they were a part of this fall. He showed me the treasure of sweets and announced that the best part is that the children had forgotten that it was gone. My husband is mischievous like the three boys we raised and I am grateful. Gratitude is a glistening glass of wine. It is a tiny hand to hold and sneaking candy with your love. Gratitude is walking a girlfriend to the door with a warm squeeze to send her on her way. It is leaving your desk satisfied with more good to be done tomorrow. Gratitude is a pocket full of small graces. I hope you find them stashed in your winter coat this season.
As the founder & executive director of The Firecracker Foundation, Tashmica works to honor the bravery of children who have survived sexual trauma by encouraging the Mid-Michigan community to invest in the healing of their whole being. She is wife to a talented tile installer and mother to three boys made from the unique combination of thunder and lightning. Taking to the track as Nina Firecracker, Tashmica is one of more than 40 athletes playing roller derby with the Lansing Derby Vixens (LDV).