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I’ve learned to hug myself

By Candace M Cahill

PROMPT—I am grateful for ...

Silence permeated the house. It was the thick, static electricity-filled quiet that remains after the roar of the furnace has faded. 4:01 am. The kitchen clock’s relentless rhythm slipped into my awareness. Eyes barely open, they gathered the moonlight seeping under the sarong haphazardly hung as a curtain two years ago.

Sleep, I said, as if to a child, my internal voice calm, soothing. Sleep.

I closed my eyes, rolled to the side, and wrapped my arms around my upper torso, falling back to sleep cradled in my own embrace.

I list ten things I am grateful for each morning before slipping out of bed.

Every day includes:

My son. So thankful I got to hold him in my arms and tell him I loved him before he died: I am more fortunate than most first mothers.

My health, and the fact that I am able-bodied, prosperous, and privileged.

My spouse.

Fresh, abundant running water.

A home filled with warmth and laughter.

Crisp, clean, breathable air.




Each day brings more things for which I am grateful. And this morning, I added:

Being thankful I’ve learned to hug myself.


Candace M Cahill is a first mother and an LDA – late discovery adoptee. Her memoir, Goodbye Again, about losing her son twice, will be released in November 2022. Candace resides with her husband, Tom, in Denali, Alaska, and works as a Park Ranger during the summer months. You can find more information at


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