Thanksgiving's Full Lace Moon; and Gratitude

In the U.S., we celebrated Thanksgiving on this day. And for most of us (including my husband and myself), that meant traveling to visit family, helping to prepare a feast, eating delicious food and spending time together, and then doing clean-up and put-away of dishes and leftovers.

I had made a homemade, from scratch, apple pie. And we took along fancy cheddar mashed potatoes and several choices of vegetables. The rest of the meal - turkey, salad, cranberries, stuffing, rolls, gravy - was provided by our host, my husband's father's widow.

As is often our custom, I spend some time on Thanksgiving counting my blessings. And I list among them family and loved ones, a wonderful job and amazing co-workers at one of the best universities in the world, a beautiful place to live, good health, and plenty to eat and drink and wear. I am a very lucky girl, and I know it; I try to remember to be grateful each and every day.

But this year, there is a special blessing that sits atop my list. For how do you ever notice how important something (or someone) is to you until you almost lose them? And so it is with me. This past summer, my oldest sister became very, very ill, and we almost lost her.

My oldest sister has always been my hero. She has been an inspiration to me; proof that women could (and should!) have their own careers, houses, vehicles, aspirations. She has helped me out in so many ways that I cannot list them here. She is also an unremitting care-taker of others; Big Sister to the World; a soup kitchen for the suffering soul. And better yet, we are friends, two peas in a pod; such fun adventures we have had together!

Those who have been following our story may remember my anguished postings this past summer, when my sister ended up in the hospital in the Harrisburg area, and I followed the rivers to see her. I whispered prayers for her to the listening butterflies; sent them to stand guard around her bed.

About every week or two for much of the summer, I made the trip to Harrisburg (4 hours round trip each time) to visit her, often in the sweltering heat of late summer. I traveled with my little sister, with my husband, to see  her. In the beginning, my oldest sister could barely talk, could not eat, could not walk.

The saddest day of all was June 26, when the doctors called our family together, told us that my sister's situation was terminal, that she had six months or less to live. I couldn't believe it. My heart just about stopped. I cried. I prayed. I started having anxiety attacks. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I lost weight.

And I stood by my sister's hospital bed, refusing to give up on her, talking to her, holding onto her, feeding her spoonful by spoonful, calling her home from the faraway world where her soul was trying to take her; calling her back to THIS world. Whispering words of love, of hope; pleading with her to stay, oh stay, even if just a little while longer. Oh, sister, we need you still!

The good news is that my sister has made a remarkable recovery, but she has a long journey ahead of her still. She moved in with close friends who have taken very good care of her, and helped save her life on several occasions. She received dialysis twice a week for many weeks. She has had numerous medical procedures. She has amazed her doctors; even surprised a few, I think, who already had her dead and buried. But no, not yet! She has been quite happily proving them WRONG!

She spent this past Monday at Hershey Medical Center undergoing many tests and meeting the transplant team that we hope will help her obtain the new liver she needs in order to survive. She said they treated her respectfully, listened to her, answered her questions, did not give her doom and gloom; in fact, they gave her HOPE.

And so it was that the first thing I did on this morning was to write my sister an email telling her how grateful I was for her life. And so it was that I stood on my front porch steps on Thanksgiving night watching a full moon rise through the lace of the trees and counting all of the reasons to be thankful. (Dear sister, I love you to the moon and back!)

Feeling blessed. Full of turkey and all the trimmings. Full of love - for my family, for those I love, even for the big, wide world. And full of gratitude for the lives of those I love. And also . . . full of hope. Never give up on the ones you love, no matter what!

I'm including below links to some of my postings from this past summer where those who are interested can catch up on more details of our story: the travels, the anguish, the heartache, the love, the hope. Yes, among it all, there are always reasons to be grateful, from the little tiny things to the great big things.

The song I've chosen to accompany this posting is not really about the moon (although it could almost have been SUNG by the moon, if you think about it, as the moon seems to be always overhead, watching over me and those I love). The song is The Pretenders, with I'll Stand By You.

For those who may be interested, here are links to earlier chapters of our story:

June 13: Calling All Angels
June 16: The Flower That Blooms in Adversity
June 17: Stream Sitting: Me, in My Native Habitat
June 18: A Picture of Tranquility
June 22: Blue Sky Orange Lilies Barn
June 26: Lady Liberty in the Susquehanna River
July 3: For the Butterfly Girl
Aug 2: Gracie, Queen of the Night
Aug 30: I Love You to the Moon and Back
Oct 4: Family Portrait :-)

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