As the State of our Union comes under suspicion and fear, I find myself relatively calm before the storm. The past few months not only brought about a contested political furor, it was also a horrific battle between cancer and me. I literally stared the C monster in the face and as in any alien horror movie, it was a death defying battle.
Time and again, as the battle waged, there were family, friends and neighbors, that stepped in to hold me, feed me, drive me, sit with me overnight, caring for me when I was unable to care for myself. Beyond the pain, the challenge for me was to learn to let go. I had to make tough decisions to take a leave of absence from work, turning over favorite projects that I had begun but was unable to complete. I learned that asking for help was not a sign of weakness but one of courage and vulnerability, to admit I was truly unable. At every request, and often times before I could voice a need, there was someone there.
One in particular, stands out because it was so unexpected and now stands as a reminder to me, that together there is nothing we can't overcome. My neighbors invited me over to see a project they were working on. They were making fence panels. Not just any fence panels, but artistically designed and masterfully executed panels. My compliments on the sheer beauty of the project, changed to amazement, when these neighbors told me they were going to replace our old fence as a gift. Speechless, I tried to decline the offer as too much and I would pay my share. They insisted it was their way of taking care of me.
Everyday, as I step into my backyard, or pull into the driveway, I see a monument, a different kind of wall. Not one of division, but a tribute that says we have friends, community, and family. We have a committment to family, friends and community to stand together and let them know that whatever lies ahead for our country, this is a time to be kind to each other, offering help before criticism. We need to remind our children and lead by example. A hand out, is a hand up for us all.
I have since come through my horrific smackdown with cancer. Still battling, but the big C has definitely backed down and the light at the end of the tunnel is now in full view. As Thanksgiving ends, let's hang on to that which, for a few days, seems to bring us together, rather than apart. Stand up. Stand together as a community, a state of our own union. We will survive but more importantly, we will roar back by joining hands, making sure that nieghbors, friends and family know that they got a friend in me.