It wasn’t the Thanksgiving any of us had planned. I’ve spent most years sharing the meal with my friend Carol and her family. Over the years, the cooking baton has passed on to her eldest daughter, CJ who, along with her husband, Kevin is a terrific cook.
I prepared a side dish and packed a pie from the local bakery. Just as I was heading out the door, Carol called. Kevin had been taken to the hospital. Stunned, my mind flashed back over the past months in which he had been diagnosed with throat cancer, undergone grueling radiation treatment, and slowly, slowly began to recover. Carol explained that he’d had a routine colonoscopy a few days ago, and helping CJ in the kitchen, had suddenly started bleeding.
CJ and Kevin, along with their two daughters rushed to the hospital, leaving Carol and her husband in the house with the greatgrandchildren. There was no telling when they might come back. Suddenly, a well-planned holiday meal was up in the air. No one knew what would happen. I was nervous, but Carol didn’t need that. So as I made the drive down, I worked on letting go of my fearful thoughts and focusing on showing up with love.
The children played with their various electronic devices and watched TV. They could sense the concern we were all feeling, and so the usual ruckus was replaced with relative calm. After a few hours with no word, we set about filling plates and sitting down to a quiet meal. Later, the call came telling us that Kevin would be kept overnight and was scheduled for surgery the next day. CJ and one daughter stayed at the hospital. The other daughter drove back and ate her Thanksgiving dinner before collected the kids and taking them home with her. Carol and I put massive amounts of food into containers, crammed them into the refrigerator, and cleaned the kitchen.
The next day, Carol called with good news. The surgery went fine and Kevin would be coming home in a few hours. What a relief. My biggest fear had been that death would forever mar this holiday. Had it been Carol or her husband or me, that would be easier to take than the loss of a young man like Kevin. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that.
This was a surreal holiday. It did not go as expected. The rolls were never made. The stuffing wasn’t found until after the meal was over. We weren’t all together in the house. But it was a Thanksgiving filled with blessings. A reminder of the preciousness of life and the gift of love. Reasons for thanksgiving, indeed!