Alana held her two-year-old niece’s hand as they stood on the beach at sunset. Alana’s family had finally gathered there after nearly two years apart. As Alana stared down the line of aunts, uncles, and cousins, she shook her head. Never again would she take for granted the warm wind in her hair, the gritty sand beneath her feet. Never again would she assume that she could see her loved ones whenever she wanted. Alana knelt, kissed her niece’s downy hair, and closed her eyes. As the warm light bathed her face, one word repeated itself in her mind: gratitude.
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