A houseful of family and friends will join me this Thanksgiving in San Pancho: daughter Jennifer, son Michael, granddaughters Lily and Anna, brother Jim and sister-in-law Teri, friends Cheryl and Jeff, Judi and John. Their presence means more to me this year than ever. Mostly because of my dust-up with cancer and my need to express my gratitude to them out loud.
As usual, I had downplayed its importance to everyone who tried to rally around in my time of need. What need? There’s no need, I said. I told them how small the tumors were, how easy the treatment was compared to the past, how good I felt both physically and mentally. No, I assured them, I feel little or no pain; no fear or misgivings either.
It’s a tactic I use often, this minimizing of my experience, this pushing away the people who love and want to comfort me. As if I’m so tough. As if they have nothing to offer me. It’s so obviously dishonest. Had they not called to express concern, not sent cards and candy, my feelings would have been hurt and I would have held it against them.
Which is what I intend to confess to those gathered at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Then I’ll thank them for ignoring my shows of false bravado and for being there again for me this year. These people who are so dear to me will hear me express how grateful I feel that they are in my life. I’ll close by lightening up and going for a laugh: Nevertheless, I’ll say, it might always be true that my tombstone should read, ”Here lies a fine example of what repression can accomplish.”