On this day before Thanksgiving, I have gratitude for perspective. Today I feel well, engaged, and strong. My mind is clear and sharp (well, as sharp as I can hope to be at my ripe old age). My heart is full. My body is at ease and appears to be working in harmony with itself.
Last year on this day I felt so sick. It was almost the worst day I've ever had. Almost. That day would turn out to be the following day on Thanksgiving. On this day last year, I had a begun one of six rounds of strong chemotherapy the previous Friday. What I didn't know at the time of my chemo infusion was that I had the stomach flu, as well. The stomach flu would run its course through every member of our family during that week. As a result of this combination of circumstances, I wasn't able to keep anything down from infusion Friday through the following Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Still, I had things to do. I had a photo shoot to shoot. And, that I did. The photo shoot that I had committed to on Wednesday a year ago today, was one that had been planned for months and when that included people who were out for a limited time on vacation for the holidays. Though I could barely stand and though I felt like I might not be able to make it, I pushed on. The shoot finished in the nick of time with a baby who was also "done" with the shoot. I attempted a smile and continued to give positive direction during the shoot, but upon its end, all I wanted to do was to be home. Trudging back up the ramp from the beach in Corona Del Mar was like running a marathon. I honestly didn't know if I would make it up that hill. But then, just in time, I made it up the hill and fortunately to the bathroom. Sweat was dripping down my face and worry was swelling within my heart and mind. But I knew I had to keep my eye on the prize and that prize was making it home. I left the bathroom and struggled the rest of the way to my car... two marathons in a span of 20 minutes. I called my husband and told him of my plight. I didn't know if I should request for him to come get me, or if I should Uber home, or if I should keep pushing on. I chose the latter and kept pushing.
On my way home, while driving down beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, I had to stop. There was no going on. Ironically, given that I have such a focus on nutrition and health, the establishment that I turned to for assistance was a McDonald's. That made me mad. However, it was all I had in that moment and it had what I needed. It had plastic bags and a bathroom. For at that moment, I did not know if I would make it home without vomiting and my goal was to get home in one way or another. So, I went into that McDonald's to use their restroom even though I wasn't going to buy something. (I would never normally do that.) I came out and I looked for the kindest face that I could find. I found that in an employee at the counter. I asked her for a few trash bags. I let her know that I was not feeling well and I likely wouldn't make it home without using them. She looked at me more like I had some type of addiction problem, not as though I was sick with cancer. But, with kindness, she walked back to the back of the McDonald's and found two plastic trash bags. "This is all I could find," she said. "I hope this will help." She looked at me with a pained face... concerned and unsure. Fortunately, I didn't end up using those trash bags. Still, they provided me insurance for the rest of my 30-minute drive home... that became an hour drive home... on the day before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest traveling days of the year.
I did not know if I would be able to make it through. They had told me that the effects of chemotherapy would be cumulative. If this was just the beginning I did not know how I would make it to the end. Always the optimist, I suddenly felt lost, and sad, and small. I made it home without incident. I gave my family a hug, I crawled into bed and I slept until the next morning. Thanksgiving morning. More about that day tomorrow.
I am grateful for the lady in that McDonalds. I am grateful for my family who was willing me home. I'm grateful that in the darkest of times we need only to look to the horizon for some light or maybe when we can't quite look up we can just have faith that the light is there. The horizon might hold a McDonalds, a great doctor, healing, medicine, love, support, family, friends, another breath, and it certainly holds your (my) own inner light and energy.
On this day before Thanksgiving, may you feel the strength and capacity to look up from any darkness or shadow in your life. Know that there is light... it is there. Soon you will gain rich perspective and you will evolve. May you evolve in gratitude and keep moving forward allowing in the shadow and the light.