It was indeed a great Thanksgiving here at the ranch. The week started off with a grand gathering of all the people I love for our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and then like a wide-angle lens zooming in, became more focused as I pulled my wee ones closer and closer, ending with just me and the kiddos doing oodles of fun things these last few days. And finally tonight, I sit here with my bunny slippers on and Scout the Wonderdog all warm and zzzzing next to me on the couch. It has been the best gosh darned week ever.

I know, it’s really corny but honest when you are faced with not seeing another Thanksgiving, suddenly every one you get to experience after that feels like such a gift, and it just gets better and better. Suddenly you find yourself standing there with a mouth full of mashed potatoes, completely overcome with this sentimental gushiness about all that you have lived to see, and all that you have that you almost didn’t have. Another year of being alive and being and doing with my kids feels like a big giant extra junior mint to me and I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to say on this oh so cozy and grounding Thanksgiving weekend, what I am thankful for in this last year in this darn near perfect life I have been given.

  1. That I am here, that I am able to continue to experience all that life has to offer; the joys and the hard conflicts, the things that make me smile and the things that make me cry, the things that make me plump and the things that make me less plump. Life is big and juicy.
  2. That Scout the Wonderdog continues on and is still here to fill me with wonder and teach me again and again that you don’t have to whole to be whole, and that sometimes a simple thing like the gift of a box of Snowflake Ritz Crackers from a friend is all you need to have THE BEST DAY EVER!
  3. That I will baking an eighteenth birthday cake for Colton later this week. I remember when I got sick how I asked God, no begged and bartered with God to please just let me live long enough to get these kids to adulthood. I have tossed coins into hundreds of wishing wells with this wish attached, and made that same wish every time I broke a wishbone or blew out my own candles. I have indeed lived to see him become the coolest and most solid kid I could’ve ever imagined, and I just marvel at the person he has become. As he blows out his eighteen candles and makes his wish, I will be there beside him, living proof that wishes do come true.
  4. That I have seen Amelia become a teenager this year, not just chronologically, but in all things Amelia. I have lived to see her become this now very grown up girl with opinions and assertiveness who is sooo fun to shop with and soooo fun to get nails done with and soooo fun to just do anything with; this absolute butterfly of a girl. She is sweet and wicked and such a mini me in ways that make me know my mom is laughing in heaven. But what I love most about this last year is that I have lived to see my mother in her, in her mothering of other kids and in her endless ability to take care of and tend to her friends and younger kids; she has become a whisperer and I love her so.
  5. That Frances, my surrogate mom has also been here another year to watch over me and my little clan. She continues to teach me that a pot of butter beans with a note attached saying, “Love you good,” found on your kitchen stove when you get home from a hard day at work can soothe all and tastes like love. I am grateful for another year on the receiving end of her 84 year old southern hospitality in that no matter when I knocked at her door this last year, she always said, “Please come in and have a seat.” For allowing me to soak up the comfort of her grandma-like home in a way that feels like being cuddled, thumb in mouth, deep into the lap of a warm and soft parent.
  6. For my Pop, who continued for yet another year to illuminate the high road for me when I get lost, or when I feel it is too dark to find or see it. For him getting through a nasty bout of pneumonia this year and choosing to not being a sissy, cause as he likes to say, getting old is not for sissies. And for teaching me not to be a sissy.
  7. For finding and experiencing love again. Though life is never perfect, it is a gift to find that my capacity to love someone is still intact and had not after all, been extinguished in an awful divorce as I had feared. And for the lessons gleaned in finding that the normal life I so wished for after cancer also includes experiencing heartache, just like everyone else.
  8. For another year of having a job that I love, and which affords me the ability to simultaneously take care of other kids and my own in a way I see fit; it is why I am here.
  9. For Junior Mints and Pistachio Pistachio ice cream, Mt. Olive dill pickles, cotton candy and Disney World. For parades and balloons and The Muppets and View Masters. For kitsch Americana like Ruby Falls caverns and Rock City, for snow globes and float pens. For all the simple pleasures that have helped my little clan find us again when we had spread thin, and helped me find that childlike tingle of glee that is so elusive, yet essential to a joyful heartbeat. For finding THE BEST DAYS EVER.
  10. For my friends and family old and new, and rediscovered on Facebook and found through blogging who for the last 365 days, have lifted me higher, wrangled my neurotic wanderings and who like warriors, defend the silver lining every single day.

I was coming out of Best Buy today and saw a woman slowly making her way into the store. Her husband was gently holding her arm as she walked from the parking lot with her bald, pink bandana wrapped head and brand new pink survivor shirt. In the holiday rush, I caught my forward movement, and stopped, and turned around to approach her. I put my hand on her arm and looked into her eyes and said, “I finished my treatment five years ago.” She looked into my eyes and said, “I just started mine two weeks ago.” I rubbed her arm and said, “You will get through this, and you will be just fine.” She smiled, tearing up, and said, “Thank you.” Her husband looked at me with the weary look of a man who had perhaps spent the morning desperately trying to convince his wife she could go out of the house bald, and who had promised her it would be good for her. He quietly met my eyes and said, “Thank you, thank you so much.” 

I walked away, thinking of how far I had come in these last years from that scary place, and thought to myself, “No…no. Thank you. Thank you so much.

 

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings;and of the gay
great happening ilimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any – lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

e.e. cummings

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