This week is a big week for me, as my last chemo is in eyesight. I hope to post tomorrow some more on that subject, but for today I'll share with you the Thanksgiving that I think might go down in our families' record book. I envision years beyond when my children will say, "Mom, remember that crazy Thanksgiving when we all went to Harrisburg the day before Thanksgiving and had to fill up 7 hours while Dad worked, the day went on forever, we were exhausted and oh you had cancer." I think there will be many laughs in hindsight.
Here is how it unfolded......
We weren't exactly sure what we were going to do this year for Thanksgiving. I have gone from an expert, "need to plan out every minute" kind of girl, to a let's wait and see what tomorrow brings kind of a girl and we'll decide then." Cancer has a way of doing that to you. And it is good. I'm liking the change.
In most past years, we'd travel to Northern VA (about a 3 hours drive) and spend a couple days with my husband's family. His parents live there along with his brother and his family and his sister and hers. All the extended family comes to town, as well, making it a mini-family reunion each year. It truly is special to see everyone come together for the holiday. There are around 40 people in attendance.
Let's just say this year, that was a teeny tiny bit overwhelming to me. I just didn't want to talk about cancer. I didn't want to wear cancer and I just didn't know if I'd have the energy to pack us all up and make the trek. But I wanted to do it for my husband. I wanted it for my kids, as family is so important. And the energy was returning after round 7 of chemo. So, on Tuesday we decided to make the trip. I was so thankful that Thanksgiving fell on an off-chemo week for me as it might just be one of my top favorite meals and I was looking forward to tasting it and enjoying it.
My husband works for an orthopedic company on the sales end of things. When surgeons are operating and using his spinal hardware, he is in the OR with the surgeon. Well, another consultant had asked him to cover a case in Harrisburg, PA on Wednesday. Harrisburg is almost halfway to his parents house. We found out Wednesday afternoon that the case had been moved to number 2 on the OR schedule. That meant a 10:30 OR time instead of 7:30AM.
Our plans were becoming a bit more complicated. In light of that new development, I thought it crazy for him to drive there, drive back to our house upon completion and then all of us retrace his steps. So I had this crazy idea to pack up that night, put it all in the car early Wednesday morning and go with him to Harrisburg. I figured I'd take the kids while he was in surgery and make a field trip out of it. Sometimes I can be a bit over ambitious. Still a work in progress....
So packed we did. By 9:00 Wednesday morning, we were all on our way. We were going to drop Barclay off at the Harrisburg hospital at 10:30 and then the kids and I would make our way to the Harrisburg State Museum. All went smoothly and to say the kids were excited would be an understatement.
The museum was both educational and inspirational seeing PA's history before us and the foundation of the state we live in. Ben and Seth are studying American History right now, and just finished through the colonization of the states, so we were in step with what they were studying. We all loved it. On the lower level they had a kids zone, which the younger 2 loved....and the 3 older found ways to enjoy as well. It was a nice way to end the museum tour.
We went across the street for lunch and then over to the state capital. I had never been there and it is truly a magnificent building. The kids were enthralled with it. We saw the senate and the House of Representatives. We stood in the Rotunda and marveled at the history that coated the walls and floors of that building. We sat on the marble grand staircase steps and read through the brochure together gleaning the facts from the pages as our eyes took in the surroundings. Together, we walked the halls of history as so much came alive. A field trip like none other.
We walked back to the car and at this point, I'm thinking we are in the home stretch. Three hours were absorbed as we soaked up the history. My feet, which have been struck with Neuropathy due to the chemo, were beginning to get soar. I texted Barclay to get his ETA and his reply back was, "we are getting ready for the second part of the surgery...about 3 more hours."
It was at this point that I began getting a bit ancy. I wasn't quite sure how to fill 3 more hours and we were all museumed out at this point. My brain went into survival mode....5 kids....a town I used to live in years ago, but it had changed quite a bit.....what to do with the next 3 hours? They were filled with walking through 2 malls, treking through the Big Bass Pro Shop (where we blew through $7 in quarters in 30 minutes as the boys played the laser gun games), and checking out our first home where Ben had lived for 2 years some 12 years ago. I think we drove pretty much all around Harrisburg by that point.
Around 5:30, I dared text Barclay again to see how close he was to being done. He said he wasn't sure. That is never a good answer. And at this point, I was beyond weary, totally worn out and questioning what had possessed me to think I could do this? It was then that I threw in the towel, drove back to the hospital and thanked God for the car DVD. For the next hour and a half, we sat parked in the hospital parking lot, car running, while the kids watched a movie. At 7:15 my dear sweet hubby walked out the hospital doors and we all sighed a heavy sigh of thankfulness.
Onward we traveled to Winchester, VA....after a long, but educational day.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Barclay's family. Thanksgiving was relaxing. And despite my fears, cancer wasn't discussed too much at all and again, I could just be....be with family and enjoy all that God has so richly blessed us with. We played games, caught up with all the relatives, the cousins giggled together, the older boys played pool and ping pong, and we enjoyed a delicious turkey feast.
We came home on Friday evening after a wonderful and memorable time away.
As I type these words, I sit in front of our Christmas tree. Knowing that chemo is coming again on Wednesday and I'd be out of commission for about 6 days or so, we went out this weekend and bought our tree, decorated the house and did some Christmas shopping. It feels good to do those normal things. To enjoy the holidays without cancer robbing me of that time and the joy. I won't let it.
It is all in how you look at it, isn't it. Life is that way. I can either focus on what I don't have, or focus on what I do.....I choose the latter. And all is good. It sure will be a Thanksgiving to remember.
Hope you all had a full Thanksgiving spent savoring the richness and blessings of all that you have.
|William Penn, statue of the founder of PA|
|Mural of one of the battles during the Civil War|
|A mural depicting the overall history of PA|
|Seth being funny in the Kids Zone!|
|On the steps inside the Capital|
|Outside the capital|