As another year winds down (just a few weeks 'til 2011!), and we gather with family and friends for the Thanksgiving feast, it's time for reflection on the many blessings we've experienced, not only throughout the year, but throughout our lives.
To say this year has been a challenge would be an understatement. After a lengthy but full recovery from last year's heart surgery, came the news that John's lymphoma (diagnosed many years ago) was out of remission again. As he began interferon and other treatments, we were determined to remain positive, but wondered what the year would have in store for us; two middle aged people, not in the best of shape, with no financial resources to speak of, facing down an illness for which there is no cure, only "management". Add to this the illness of several of our fur-kids, a portion of the roof blowing off in January's blizzard, and the challenges I have getting around with a brace on my leg, and well - I hate to admit it, but we've had more than our share of "deer in the headlights" moments this year.
Yet we remain thankful, because our year has also been filled with incredible blessings; Our daughter moved to Philadelphia, giving us the opportunity to see her far more often (she's even cooking the Thanksgiving feast!). A gift from a complete stranger touched our lives in a way that enabled us to move forward in the midst of nearly overwhelming obstacles. My work was published in a couple of magazines, and we had a successful and incredibly inspiring time at the Ghoultide Gathering. There's food in the pantry, oil in the furnace, and as of last week, a brand new roof overhead.
But most importantly, we're HERE, and we have each other. Like the toys the skin horse describes in one of Courtney's favorite childood books, The Velveteen Rabbit, we've experienced love that has made us REAL:
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
I suppose that's us - loose in the joints and very shabby. But you know, I'm not sure I would have it any other way...
As uncertain as the future is, we're facing it together, and that's a lot. :)
Wishing those of you who celebrate a most happy and blessed Thanksgiving, and wishing those who don't a happy and blessed November Thursday!