Thanksgiving 2006 was the hardest for me I think. We really had no family near us so to speak. The few relatives that were within a 10 mile radius, had buried their heads under ground. I remember seeing one of my cousins for the first time since I had lost my hair. My mom had basically bribed her to come see me. Disaster was written all over that operation. I just sat there holding back the tears as she and her mother sat as far away from me as possible. She couldn't even look at me. I was crushed. I left there feeling as if I were some kind of leper, repulsive and unloved. I know deep down this was not their intent, but it was the outcome of their actions. Still the damage was done. I was officially was outsider in my own family.
As Thanksgiving neared, I thought we would be alone, banished and forgotten. My heart was heavy and felt broken. Sadly I didn't even have the energy to pick them all up off the floor. We were outsiders in our own family. But then, as I was planning to cook for just the 6 of us, my uncle called. Such a sweet voice was his. My uncle Mike ( for whom Micah is named after), he had just come down from Dallas with his sweet wife, Brenda for the Komen walk.
As a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time with my Uncle Mike, and my Uncle Pat. They are my dad's little brothers. Kind, genuine, thoughtful and lovable are these Uncles of mine. As I sat there talking to my Uncle tears were streaming down my face. I missed him, I missed my family and I felt very alone. But here was my uncle, on the other end of the phone, asking my family and I to come to their home for Thanksgiving, to come spend this time of thanks with people who loved me, still needed me. I was speechless. I had already wrapped my mind around the idea of being alone yet here my uncle was snapping, tearing, pulling those vines of self pity off me!
I was unsure of the drive to Dallas. I felt depleted, and I was weary of the 6 hour drive ahead of us as I climbed into our vehicle that evening. We headed up to my Uncle and new aunt's home. We arrived late Wednesday night and were welcomed with open arms. More of my cousins were there and they hugged me tight. I felt so loved, so alive. I was happy to be around this family of mine. No one looked at me any differently than who I have always been. I was Christie, motor mouth, giggly and undeniably me! True I had no hair, no eyebrows or eye lashed. Yes I was missing a boob, but I was still me. My dear family knew me, loved me and embraced me for who I was not what I was.
That Thanksgiving was spent around a great big table with lots of wonderful food. We spent time talking, reminiscing and watching football. The boys were happier than I had seen them in a very long time. Joshua and Micah played outside with their cousin most of the day.We went to a movie, and you know what? No one was embarrassed to stand or sit by me in public. Life was wonderful that day. I was loved, we were loved and brought in to feel close to the family we were apart of.
Life has changed dramatically since then. My hair has grown back , as has my brows and lasheS. I have 1 and a half boobs now instead of just one. I look like me again, yet there are still some that cannot bear to be around me still. The very thought of my cancer still scares them, repels them and so they continue to avoid me. But I am not as weak as I was then either. I am stronger, more confident than I was before. But mostly, I am loved. I am apart of this family, the family Johnny and I have created and God has graciously given to us.
So as the sun rose this morning I began to gather my family, and the food I had prepared. This year we have but a short drive, as we are spending the day with extended family. Today, we celebrate and we give thanks. As I gather around the table today with Johnny, the boys, my parents and our wonderful extended family I am reminded of how precious life is. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, none of us know what the next day will bring. What we do have is the here and now. These precious, fleeting moments are gifts. So I give thanks today for all I have been given, cancer and all. I have my life, my family and I have today to spend with those I love.
So I say to all those I love and hold dear--- Happy Thanksgiving. I may not be able to sit down at your tables today, but I am with you in spirit. I hold each of you dear and I am thankful for the love I feel from all of you. Enjoy this day of thanksgiving, cherish the time you have with your loved ones and embrace the day as if it were your last!