This year I am grateful for a bowl of milk and Honey-Nut Cheerios. If you study the box, the bright yellow bee is hugging the little cream colored hole tight, afraid that it might escape. I don’t know from what exactly, but maybe it is this act of hugging depicted on the box that makes it sell off the shelves of the grocery aisle.

              As I lift the spoon filled with Cheerios to my mouth, I am doing several things: packing my daughter’s lunch at school, saying goodbye to my husband, opening up the blinds in our kitchen to let the sunlight in, and looking at my calendar as to what I have planned for the day ahead. I know as soon as I gulp the last of my milk, wipe off my milk moustache, and drop the spoon and bowl into the sink, my day is ready to start. It is a morning ritual that I’ve done for years. No matter how chaotic my day becomes I depend on that single moment in the morning.

           For two weeks, though, the bright yellow bee was not greeting me in the morning. I was immersed in a new routine, a routine I was unfamiliar with. I still opened the blinds in the morning, but it was to a room old and yet new to me. It was my room in my childhood home, except nothing in the room looked familiar to me. I remember as a teenager my closet was full of vests, yearbooks from high school, and a boom-box with the accompanying cassette box. I would sit in this room for hours and hang out with my friends, talking about what we were going to wear for our night out or if our latest crush noticed us.

           In the closet, now, were adult Depend diapers, bed sheets, latex gloves, gauze, and a folded-up wheelchair. In the middle of the room was a bed, not a bed with a polka dot comforter, but a hospital bed, covered with a plastic white sheet. My thin, brown father laid on that bed.

          In the morning I would wake up and make tea and toast for my father. I would walk into my room, now my father’s hospice room, greet him in the morning and hug him tight just like the bee on the Cheerios box. I would change his dressing on his stomach which would be covered with huge scarlet blistered lesions from the shingles. After placing a new gauze bandage on him, I would change his shirt, elevate his bed, and adjust the cannula in his nose which helped him breathe. I would rearrange the bedroom trying to make certain that he didn’t feel like he was in the hospital by lighting cinnamon candles, pulling up a chair next to him and reading the morning paper to him in my loudest voice.

            On these mornings, I didn’t eat breakfast. I would pause, though, and think I would never in my life underestimate the power of a bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios. It made be grateful for the ability to do the mundane. So now, today, tomorrow, look around, take a breath, and enjoy your own morning breakfast.