The second half of this year was a big transition for our family, and it’s been both wonderful and challenging. I’ve only recently come to realize that it’s okay that we’re not totally settled yet. With two little kids, and hopefully more to come, we’re going to be in a state of flux for the next eighteen years, at least.
And so, with the wisdom of our parish priest and the insight of a brilliant man named Henri Nouwen, I’m trying to live each day for what it is, rather than trying to get through it until the next thing comes. This requires patience (which I’m still working on) and gratitude.
I’m grateful for the joy that multiplies when our family gets together for the holidays . . . for my boys—John, Jacob, Ethan, and Henry, and all they have brought to my life, all they have taught me, and every way they’ve challenged me to be a better version of myself . . . for my home—a warm, (mostly) dry, and safe place to build my family, where my kids get to see their grandparents and at least one aunt every day . . . for my work—the more I do it, the more I understand how much writing and editing is a part of who I am, and how I see and make sense of the world.
And there are little things, too. . . . Jacob and Henry wrestling together, and then giving each other hugs and kisses when they say good night . . . Henry’s smile after he’d been sick a few weeks ago, even if he did throw up again a minute later . . . the fact that babies dance before they walk . . . Jacob becoming obsessed with A Charlie Brown Christmas and reenacting scenes on a daily basis . . . his understanding of the nativity . . . his offering to lead me in a rosary in the car recently . . . for every moment I get to spend with my children, watching them become—watching them be—the people God made them.
Gratitude inevitably leads to hope. While I was thinking about and reflecting on gratitude this Advent, I got an email from a man named Cameron Von St. James, offering to share his family’s story of hope, love, and joy.
Here’s what Cameron shared with me:
My name is Cameron Von St. James and my wife Heather is an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When she was diagnosed, she had just given birth to our little girl, Lily. Heather was told she only had 15 months left to live. I was quickly thrown into the role of caregiver, and together we decided we would do whatever it took to beat the cancer. Nearly 8 years later, Heather is cancer free and doing what she loves most; raising Lily. Because she beat the odds and is one of few long-term survivors of mesothelioma, it is our mission to spread awareness of mesothelioma by sharing our personal story.
This struck me for obvious reasons, but even more powerfully so because Lily, or a variation thereof, is a name I’d like to give to a little girl one day.
Because Heather was diagnosed in the holiday season, this time of year can be hard for her, as it is for many. So every day of this month, she’s choosing something other than sorrow: thankfulness, and she’s asking others to join her. My post today is part of their “30 Days of Thankfulness.”
What are you thankful for this Christmas?
Please join me in offering a prayer of thanksgiving for Heather’s life today!
For more about Heather’s story, click here: mesothelioma.com/heather