Only on the Worst Days Do We Really Understand Gratitude

Why I’m trying not to forget each near miss

Jennifer Haubrich
5 min readJun 30, 2021


Two years ago, our dentist referred us to a specialist for something he’d seen in my daughter’s jaw. He didn’t seem overly concerned. I wasn’t either until I took her to see the specialist and saw the look on his face after he examined the x-ray.

At that moment, the floor seemed to sink beneath my feet.

While she was out of the room, the doctor told me that our daughter had a 5-centimeter tumor in her jaw. He gave no assurance things would be okay. In fact, he said he couldn’t help. Only a few doctors in the world might be able to take care of it. He would try to get us an appointment with one in Philadelphia. She’d likely need radiation afterward. Then reconstruction.

She’d just gotten her braces off.

My mind raced as I tried to figure out how this could be happening. I’m not sure how I drove us home. I tried to stay calm, so my daughter didn’t see how scared I was.

When we arrived, my husband was out on a run. I called and asked where he was. I couldn’t stand to inhabit this new reality by myself. I picked him up in the car to tell him the news.

It was selfish and a bit cruel. I should have let him enjoy one last carefree run.

A stronger person might have.

That day, and in those that followed, I truly felt for the first time how lucky we’d been to have a healthy child. Because only then could I feel what it might be like not to have one.

I’ve noticed we only truly understand and appreciate what we have when we are faced with the prospect of its loss.

We think we do.

But we don’t really.

Now that my family is fully vaccinated, I find myself taking it for granted that none of us got Covid-19. Some part of me has rewritten the past to say it was always going to turn out this way.

I forget about all the days I lived not knowing that.

I have a pile of notebooks filled with my thoughts, hopes, and worries since before the pandemic turned our lives upside down. Three pages for each day that passed. I rarely…



Jennifer Haubrich

Relationships | Parenting | Food | Life | Mother, wife, and left-handed herbivore. INFJ. Still a Jersey girl. for content writing inquiries