Radiation is complete, and while there are some residual side effects, Abi seems to be feeling pretty well. Weather permitting, she’ll have her first post-radiation scan tomorrow (we’re expecting 4-8 inches of snow which – in southern Virginia – may shut us down for days), and treatment is scheduled for next week. Please keep Abi in your prayers.
As for what’s been going on, there is simply no way for me to adequately capture the series of moments that we've collected since my last entry.
But it certainly begins with having all the siblings and their significant others to celebrate the season. We're so fortunate that we get to do this every year, but of course this year was different. Better. I keep finding myself going back to something Glenn Doyle Melton said:
"You have been offered "the gift of crisis". As Kathleen Norris reminds us, the Greek root of the word crisis is "to sift", as in, to shake out the excesses and leave only what's important. That's what crises do. They shake things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most. The rest falls away."
(She wasn't writing that exclusively for us, of course. It's for everybody that's ever been given that particular gift, which is...well, everybody.)
And we found so much to hold on to this holiday season. For instance:
- Twenty-four days of borax snowflakes, homemade cocoa, holiday lights, John’s boozy eggnog, waiting in the snow for craft beer releases, bad movies at the planetarium, and every other thing on the Advent calendar.
- Marcia’s excitement when the eight of us won the escape room in forty(!) minutes.
- The unfiltered joy on Abi and Sarah’s faces when we stopped by The New Leaf for centerpiece flowers, and in her excitement, Sarah nearly blowing the surprise of Abi and Jackie’s arrangement class.
- The seven course Christmas Eve dinner at Jackie and Nate’s new home, and seeing Victoria and Jackie deep in conversation and laughter.
- Nate versus Chris at Sonar Commander, with the rest of us trying to keep up (except for Victoria, who is on a whole other level.)
- A series of lessons from Chris to teach me to bake crusty (i.e., real) bread.
- Sticking the landing on everyone’s, but especially Marcia’s conspiracy Santa gifts.
- The combination of elation and surprise when Abi saw the crowd gathered for her 27th birthday in Columbus.
- Dinner in Ohio with all my siblings (Thanks, mom and Don!)
- John and Tammy’s hospitality, and my sister teaching me to (always) fill a wine glass to the top.
- Dinner at Barcelona with the Mayers family.
- Coming home (late) from Columbus to find Lizzie and Jonathon had completely decorated the house for Abi and John’s annual New Year’s bash.
- Abi’s snapchat celebrating her recovery from radiation side effects.
- Planting the seeds for a 2018 full of moments and memories.
- Ringing in the new year with dear neighborhood friends, and the Dude.
- ... and having spent a portion of the holiday’s with family in Columbus, I’m certain that Abi and John have their own long list that they could share.
After the past two weeks, I’ve become convinced that “The rest” is a loud, obnoxious pain in the ass that isn’t content to share the moment with anyone or anything. The rest is the worst kind of attention hog.
But when we openly accept our gift of crisis, it’s astonishing what remains when “the rest falls away.” Those moments that have been there all along, simply waiting to be collected. Those moments that transform themselves into memories, sneak under our pillows, and quietly fill our souls for our entire lives if only we let them.
In love and gratitude,