One of our Thanksgiving traditions is for everyone to write what they are thankful for on a paper leaf. As we eat, the younger cousins (who are now not so young), read them aloud. The rest of the guests try and figure out who wrote what. It's usually pretty obvious, like the year I wrote Nicki Minaj or the year one of the little kids wrote "cheese" and we all burst out laughing.
This year, my leaf will read something like:
My dad is alive.
Back in September, when we went through that terrible trauma of not knowing what was going on with him, we also didn't know what it meant. We were confident that whatever was happening was not going to kill him, but we also were so unsure about it all. Naturally, that leads to fear, to "what if?". So the fact that he is alive, home, walking and talking is the greatest gift we could have been blessed with.
And then there's everything that goes along with that: thankful for the doctors who cared for him, for the nurses who held our hands through the process and who wiped our tears, to the medicine that helped pull him out of the steroid psychosis, to the friendly aides who took such amazing care of him. To each person who visited even though it was terribly painful to see him in that condition, to the people who delivered meals or sent gift cards so that we could eat, to anyone who babysat Ryan or did laundry or ran errands, for our employers who were so compassionate and understanding, for the phone calls/cards/emails, for the prayers, and for God, who held us tightly during that time and embraced us with His Grace.
Most of all, I am thankful to be blessed with this crazy group of people I call my family. We would not have made it through that hell without one another. We came out of it stronger than ever before, a united force. No one should dare mess with us, not even cancer.
I learned so much from September 5th- now. Mostly, that family, laughter, sharing and friends are among the most important, cherished things in life. Everything in between is just "stuff". We put "stuff" first a lot, when it should be the other way around. Being with the ones you love, making memories, and giving back to others is a beautiful way to live your life.
Dad, thank you for pulling through. You are the strongest man I know, and I am so proud of you.
Mom, thank you for being the world's greastest caregiver. I know it's exhausting, but you are doing a phenomenal job. Your patience and compassion shine.
Lord, thank you for blessing me with this family, these friends, and this life.