On my chemo weeks I get a little disparate when it comes to keeping myself entertained. I will admit, I have watched more of the Kardashians than the news, and probably watched the Breakfast Club at least three times in the last six months. Today I watched The Disney movie, Lilo and Stitch.

I forgot about this movie. The main point of the movie was the Hawaiian term for family – “ohana, it means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” During the climax of the movie, Stitch evaluates his new family by saying, “it may be small and broken, but it’s still good.” I feel like this is the motto for the year.

Not that my family is broken, but brokenness is the feeling I get when realizing this entire year was a series of missed opportunities. My family wasn’t able to get down to see my niece when she was born (we were all up in Minnesota for my surgery), the benefit-vs-baptism weekend, even the holidays this past week have turned into a routine that we can’t get straightened out year after year.

But, it’s still been good. I made my parents a snapfish book with all the photos of good things to come out of 2013 – Minnesota road trip, the newest addition to the Abelbeck family, driving to new Mexico to see my sister’s family, my parents 35 anniversary party, getting majority of my family together for Thanksgiving. It led me to do a reflection of all the good things that came out of 2013, regardless of the bad.

When I look at this past week, it feels a little broken. It was definitely not a normal Christmas, but it was still good.

I can’t express enough the gratitude for all the friends and family who came to my last chemo treatment. We took over two rooms and made a party in the infusion center. It was a significant gesture to me that friends and family drove in from other cities, took off work, and pulled themselves away from their families during the week of Christmas.

I also am so grateful to have my aunt who attended every Lincoln chemo round with me, even letting herself in to drop off food when I was too tired to pry myself off the couch. Similarly, my mom who attended every Omaha treatment with me, constantly reminded me to go do my blood work, and who may have a week by week chart of all my results.

Although I feel lucky that we did still have a tree trimmed with ornaments and tinsel (that my mom decorated by herself because I napped every time she wanted me to help during my last cycle), we don’t really make a big deal out of gifts. Everything I received under the tree fits into one shoebox. What I’ll remember most about Santa this year is my dad putting a red suit and making visits to all the neighbor kids. It’s still good.

While we didn’t have our dining room full of guests Christmas morning, the usual Christmas breakfast was served to the three of us. As I get older, I appreciate the hard work it takes to host events, even if I still refuse to do it. My mom made a three course dinner by herself, for guests to be determined. The house became a stop for wanderers – friends with no other Christmas day plans, family taking a break from driving, neighbors too overwhelmed with the holiday were invited. I really like my parents have such an open-arms approach, and I enjoy seeing them with their friends, even if it is at a Mexican restaurant on Christmas eve eve.

So, in summary. This year is broken. It hasn’t been terrible, as there are a lot of really good moments and time spent with family that probably wouldn’t have happened. One of my biggest anxieties early this summer was the fear my life would be put on hold. Everyone would be moving forward with their own goals and plans, and I would be left behind.

My ‘Ohana’ pulled through – I always felt supported, surrounded and loved by family and close friends.

I was never left behind or forgotten.


Author: Clarissa A.

The older I get, the less I know.

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