I had a really great Thanksgiving and following weekend. I went back home to Louisiana and spent some time with my sister and extended family, although much too brief for my liking. I also spent quite a bit of time with some of my best friends from college. It was the first time most of them had seen me since I got sick. It will never cease to amaze me how quickly life can change.
Meagan, my old college roommate, was celebrating both her bridal shower and bachelorette party in Kenner Thanksgiving weekend, and I was privileged and honored to play a part.There were parts of the trip I felt very emotional, but I loved and appreciated every moment of it in a way that I wouldn’t have before I got sick. Spending Thanksgiving with my aunts and cousins, watching one of my best friend’s try on her wedding dress and choose a veil, playing dirty games at a bachelorette party, picking out the perfect presents for the shower, eating sushi with my sister and her boyfriend, talking about the future. I felt like a normal 25 year old again, doing normal things. And I loved every minute of it. But I also was very aware of just how special those moments were on a whole new level now, because I fought hard to have them.
A friend of mine from high school, also named Megan, lives in Austin now and I was very happy to have someone to make the long journey with to and from Louisiana. While we were driving we had a conversation about how amazing it is that so many of the people we grew up or went to college with are living their dreams. I know those dreams have evolved and grown with us, but most of us have set out and achieved what we sought to at his point in our lives and are now working on new adventures. I feel so blessed and proud to have been given the ability and motivation to do so myself. I am also very proud of my friends and loved ones that have done the same.
Out to eat Thanksgiving weekend with a few of the people I’m proud to call friends.
Shortly after I returned, one of the church leaders called me and asked me and Rene to light the first advent candle at Sunday’s service. I was honored and immediately accepted. Advent is the beginning of the Christian calendar and it made me think of all that we have accomplished in a year. A year ago we hadn’t even joined the church, and there we stood, in front of the whole congregation, surrounded by so much love. Reading part of the script (below), really brought home one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my cancer journey.
The Advent wreath is a tool that guides our journey through the Advent season. The four candles in the ring of the wreath mark for us the passing of time, calling us to do the work of preparation.
The first candle to be lit in the wreath is the candle of hope. Hope is about the future – about what will be but is not yet. Hope is rooted in God, in God’s work, in God’s faithfulness. It is the quiet confidence, the settled assurance that God is at work for our good, even when we cannot see that work. Such hope stirs within us the strength to keep on keeping on, to be faithful as God is faithful.
The cancer journey is like a constant rough patch in the road. I wouldn’t say there was ever a moment I felt like we were smooth sailing. Even now, I have unexpected hormone swings, rash outbreaks, exhaustion, etc. I have my first big check-up post-treatment later this week, and I’m nervous about what might turn up. But throughout it all I have been blessed with this overwhelming feeling that everything will be okay. I never stopped planning for the future. I knew that there this was just part of my journey. Anytime I felt down or defeated, I would be reminded that everything does happen for a reason, and He has a plan and is at work. I’m still discovering what some of those plans might be, but its truly a beautiful and exciting experience to see them unfold!
This holiday season, I hope everyone is able to find hope, even through the roughest of patches.