Sunday, October 9, 2011

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in the Great White North. I've never been a big one for Thanksgiving. We stopped doing to big family dinners several years ago when my schedules couldn't coincide with my brothers and their in laws and Sean's brothers and their in laws. And for a few years my mom took the long weekend opportunity to go up north to visit friends.  It's all good though, like I said, it's not exactly one of those holidays that ranks high on my list of 'gotta celebrate'.  We're not farmers, I can barely grow green beans (and that says something because 5 year olds can grow green beans). We don't need to celebrate the harvest.

Thanksgiving is kind of bitter sweet for me. The last Thanksgiving dinner we had with my Dad in 2008, it was me and Sean and the kids and my Dad. We were going around the table talking about what we were thankful for and my Dad, with his quasi-serious sense of humour said "I'm just thankful to still be here."  We all laughed but deep down we all knew he wasn't entirely joking and we were all thankful for the same. And 8 months later he was gone.  But it's also at this time of year that we celebrate Connor's birthday (the 12th) and that makes this a super time of year, it gives us a reason to celebrate.

This year, I could protest this holiday and scream to the Heavens, "What have I got to be Thankful for?" I'm nearly bald (ironically, I dreamt of my hair falling completely out last night and my Dad was there with me telling me it was no big deal - he was nearly bald too) I'm lopsided in the chest area with a hideous scar. I can't walk from here to there without pain and spend most of my day hopped up on drugs (okay, that's an exaggeration, the drugs don't actually get me feeling loopy anymore...guess I'm used to them)  I can't work. I have to spend the next year going for IV treatments in the hopes of eradicating my body of this cancer...the cancer they are having trouble pin pointing.

And yet, none of those reasons make me feel like I shouldn't be thankful. Because the truth is, I have more this year to be thankful for than I ever have before - and much of that is thanks to cancer, go figure.

I am thankful first and foremost for my family.
My husband who has been my rock and has carried the weight of the world on his shoulders without uttering a single complaint. He's made me feel whole, even though physically, I'm not. He loves me and supports me and even when I'm driving him crazy, he bites his tongue and humours me. 
My kids - that speaks for itself. They are my world. They are the reason I am fighting with everything I have. They are the reason I will beat this. I can't remember what my life was like before they were born and I can't remember why I felt any purpose in life back then because they are my purpose. I love them more than I can ever express and they make me so proud each and every day.
My mom. I can't find the words to describe what my mom means to me. I certainly couldn't get through this battle without her either. Not just from the practical standpoint of not worrying about what to do with the kids when I'm sick or having appointments or any of that, but from the strength she gives me. My mom has put up with a lot of shit in her time and she keeps getting up, brushing herself off and moving forward.  I like to think I get that from her. I know my mom loves me because she tells me everyday. And I'm pretty damned lucky because I know not everyone has that relationship with their mom. She might drive me nuts sometimes (as I'm sure I do her) but I wouldn't trade her for anything. 
My brothers. No matter the differences we've had in our lives (and we've had our share) at the end of the day blood is thicker than water and we stand together. I know they will never let me down. I'm blessed to be from a close nit family, one that doesn't communicate or spend time together because we're family and we have to but because we're friends and we want to.

I'm thankful for my friends.
I've talked about friends before and how this trial in my life has not only shown me who my friends are but has strengthened the bonds of those friendships. I always said, I might not have a ton of friends but the ones I do have are the best and I would be lost without them.

I'm thankful for my job.
How many people can truly say that the prospect of not going to work would make them physically ill? I can. I love my job that much. I miss it terribly and can't wait to get back to it. It's fulfilling. It's challenging. It's fun.

I'm thankful for the very gift of life. When put face to face with your own mortality you tend to view things differently. We've all heard the adage, 'don't sweat the small stuff' and many claim to live by it but I think when you're put in this position you have a greater understanding of that. It's not just about not worrying about the small things like a few cobwebs in the corner of the living room or crumbs in the new car, it's about leaving the past in the past, not worrying too much about what the future holds and about living life - here and now. And it doesn't have to be 'bucket list-ish' like every moment is the last so it's got to be an adventure it's just about appreciating life - even the mundane things like emptying the dishwasher or playing Wii with the kids.

No matter how shitty you think you might have it - there is someone out there who's got it a hell of a lot worse than you. Remember that and you've found the secret to a happy life.

And so my friends, take time to look at your life, see the beauty in it. There's so much to be thankful for.

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