This time last year, I was happily preparing for a holiday season with all of my extended family. We had a great Thanksgiving and the best Christmas ever. I have two brothers and four sisters and we were all able to be together last Christmas. All twenty of the grandchildren were there as well. It was a highpoint for all of us.
Sadly, a true low point was on its way. The following March we found out that my brother has metastatic melanoma in nearly every joint in his body. The prognosis was not at all positive, but being believers in a good and powerful God, we prayed and came together in a new way. My brother is only 47 and is very happily married. He is quick-witted and wise-cracking. He is a gentle soul who writes beautiful poetry and loves animals and children. He is the kind of man the world needs to hang on to. However, we can understand why heaven wants him so soon, and we are comforted knowing he will be there if we do not get our way.
I share this with anyone and everyone now, with the cliche message that we all need to treasure those around us every day. It felt so wrong to start celebrating him just because he got sick. He should have been celebrated for the great brother he was all along. So should everyone that I love. We had a big party for him on his birthday in June. Shouldn’t we have done that anyway? Yes! Everyone who might have been reluctant to drive for hours for Thanksgiving is going out of their way to be here this year, because it may be the last with our brother. But the truth is, this is a possibility any year, for any family.
We are counting down the days til we can be together this holiday. We all tell each other we love each other before we hang up the phone. We all get updates on my brother via Caringbridge.org, a great service that connects people who are going through health problems. Chances are you know someone or have someone in your family who has cancer or one of many tragic health problems, so you know what I’m saying is true. If you don’t, say an extra thank you this year and try to go through your holiday with the perspective that we have gained. It is truly bittersweet to see what we have seen this year. God has seen fit to give my brother exceptionally good health for this holiday season. This Thanksgiving, we are more thankful than we have ever been.