It is a dark and rainy day in Houston. It is Thanksgiving Day, and the weather fits the mood for the holiday this year. We usually mark this day by doing what everyone else does with the traditional turkey dinner and a large family gathering. For us, this is a low key day with a frozen meal.
The reason this year is different is that my mother is going through radiation treatments for oral cancer. For three weeks now, a hospital clinic zapped her with radiation around her mouth and neck, and she has three more weeks to go. With each zapping session, her discomfort has grown, and now she cannot eat solid food, and she requires morphene to deal with the pain so she can get through another day. It is painful to see her suffer, but we live with the hope that she will heal after the treatments and have the oral cancer forever behind her.
My sister has taken my mother to every appointment. Because of this, she is spending the holiday with husband and son whom she has not been around much during the treatments. They will have a traditional celebration, and it is wonderful that they can do so.
To have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with her feels cruel. Later today, we are going to go to her house and drink milkshakes with her in solidarity with her on this Thanksgiving Day. No one will have solid food with her, but I know we will all enjoy our meal and we will do it together.
My fear is that my mother feels like a burden because of her dependence upon her children to get through her ordeal. But if she reads this, I hope she understands that my sister and I care for her deeply and are tremendously grateful for her. We love her and feel it is a privilege to help her in her time of need. We are thankful for who she is and what she has done.
As I sit on the sofa with a cup of coffee, I am thankful for so many things. God blesses us beyond measure. Despite my mother’s present suffering, we are thankful that once she is through the treatments, she will live cancer free with a good prognosis. We pray for that daily.
Reflecting on the day, this could have been one of the usual Thanksgiving holidays with the traditions and the usual. Today is in the realm of the unusual, but thankfulness remains. This will likely be a Thanksgiving long remembered, and in a good way.
When the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony had their first thanksgiving feast, they did it after losing many of their members to diseases. They had plenty of reason to feel sorrow, and yet, despite this, they gathered together to give thanks to God for His Providence and care as they established their lives in the new world. They knew they could do this because of their faith.
May you experience the joy and knowledge of God and the hope that this faith brings. I am thankful for you!