Gratitude is the Key

Sandra Doyle’s story as told to Tiffany Erk. Read here by Beth Nahre. 

It was cold outside the night that I learned the monetary value of a man’s life.

We had just had our seventh child when my husband fell ill. We didn’t have insurance so he kept putting off going to the doctor. He just kept getting sicker and sicker until he could barely breathe so we had no choice but to rush to the emergency room. He was weak and struggling to breathe, so I helped him cross the threshold and walk to the admissions area. After an initial assessment, it was determined that my husband required an emergency procedure to survive.

However, we did not have insurance. And that’s the moment when everything really changed for us. The hospital refused to treat my husband, my love, my children’s father without a hefty deposit of thousands of dollars that we did not have.

My husband gathered himself up and started walking. I asked him what he was doing and he yelled, “I’m going to go out here and lay down and die on these hospital steps, and you sue this hospital for everything they’re worth and provide for our family.”

This initiated an arrangement with the hospital that allowed for my husband’s treatment. He did come home from the hospital, but I will never forget the feeling of being expendable due to poverty.

That night at the hospital was just the beginning of our woes. Our primary breadwinner, my husband, remained ill and unable to work for the next several months. With seven young children at home needing to be fed, I had no choice but to apply for assistance for the first time in my life. The amount of guilt and shame I felt walking into that office is something I will never forget. People judge you and say things like, “You shouldn’t have had so many children if you couldn’t take care of them.” But you never know how your life can change in the blink of an eye.

And so I went, and I pray that nobody ever feels the weight of being unable to feed their children. It is gut-wrenching. I went and I used the programs. Every opportunity for assistance to give us a hand up, I took. And I began to practice gratitude, which is what really turned the tide for us.

Daily gratitude revealed God’s awesome presence in my life and things started to change. I noticed that with each passing day, I found more and more to be grateful for! I joined the local Optimist Club to give back to my community and help the area youth. Before you know it, I was elevated to a distinguished leadership position and traveled to a convention in Arlington for the Optimist.

It’s been many years since that cold night at the hospital. And as I look back, I have nothing but gratitude for all the blessings in my life today. If there is one thing I could say to the world, it would be, “Don’t lose hope and gratitude!”

This story originally appeared in Facing Resource Insecurity, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Second Harvest Food Bank of East-Central Indiana.

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