I am thankful for my beautiful daughter, wonderful friends, loving family, and plentiful work.
This Thanksgiving brought time to reflect on change and new beginnings. My dad started chemo on Monday, but was well enough to prepare a delicious turkey on Wednesday. My mom, sister, Bean girl and I all sat down at his table for the first time ever this Thanksgiving. We ate and laughed, and even though we're all feeling uncertain about the future and concerned about his health, we enjoyed ourselves and our time together immensely.

Bean girl had Thanksgiving with her father this year and I spent the holiday with my boyfriend's family, who enjoyed this year as their first in Arkansas. It was beautiful- his mother really made a feast! The sheer amount of food was almost overwhelming, and good lord was it tasty...
Its so strange watching a family that's so different from my own, their customs and traditions... the family dynamic is foreign but warm, very open and accepting. We all circled around the table; his father & mother, brother, & children... myself, their family friend, and my boyfriend's ex-wife & her boyfriend... all sitting together as a family. They toasted and then his son asked everyone to say what we were thankful for. I said I was thankful to know everyone, and to be included. I fought tears yesterday thinking about how lucky I was.

Family is so very important. I look forward all year to Christmas, to spending time with my mom dad & sister, grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins. Everyone's so spread out, from London, England to Baton Rouge, Louisiana... but we all come together once a year for a couple of days. We eat and open presents and tell stories, and god, do we laugh... My ex-husband says his favorite part of the divorce is not having to spend Christmas with my family anymore, and I'll never understand it. These people are my very core- and without them I'd be nothing. They are my support and understanding, to love them is to know me.

This year my family is extended. Being with my boyfriend and his family has been wonderful. They're a strong family... so loving. They believe wholeheartedly in an unbreakable bond in roots and blood, and its obvious in the way they speak, the stories they tell. They include everyone, and they're fiercely protective in a way I admire more than I could even say. Being included means being understood, loved, & protected. Getting to know them means understanding even more who the man I fell in love with really is, was, and will be.

This year it all just means so much more. Maybe its my dad being sick, or maybe its the divorce, or maybe, just maybe... I'm getting older and wiser and I'm realizing the true value of having people that can see me and love me, flaws and all, because of a common bond. There's just nothing more important than that.

Fuck Cancer.

When I was a little girl, my dad was my partner in crime.
We spent our time fishing and wrestling, playing in the yard and eating junk food.
He has the gentlest soul you'll ever encounter. He's got the spirit of a grandpa, and he's always had it. 30 or 50, he's just so gentle.
When my parents divorced my world crashed down around me.
My dad was my best friend, I didn't understand how I could live without him.
I did though. I lived without him for 10 years. I lived with a lot of hurt and a lot of sadness. I grew up needing him so much, and he just wasn't there.
He remarried a few times, he spent some time in jail, he checked out and stayed stoned for a lot of years.
Eventually he cleaned himself up, I made contact with him and tried to build a relationship... and it worked. We got really close, and when I decided to go to college closer to him, I was able to start really learning about my dad.

He had cancer really bad. The chemo & radiation made him look slightly frail. Well over 6ft tall and at nearly 300 lbs, he still towered over me but he just felt different. He felt worried. The tumor in his liver was big, and it wasn't shrinking. He was sick but worked hard anyway, always struggling to make ends meet. I don't remember when he started his "crazy" juice diet, or the supplements, or the positive thinking, but the combination of it all just worked. The tumor disappeared. Remission.

My dad was able to change my daughter's diaper the day we brought her home from the hospital. This summer, my little sister moved in with him. She spent the summer before college building the relationship she never had with him.

My dad starts chemo again very soon. My mom called and told me yesterday. All of her words jumbled, because deep down it doesn't matter how small the tumor was, how much of it they removed, or how positive the doctor was. My dad is sick again, and I am absolutely torn up over it.

Fuck cancer. Fuck it completely.

I was going to post words, but decided on pictures instead.

These all came from Le Love & We Heart It.