The turkey was moist and the cranberries were heavenly.
Chad does such a good job on both.
Our Thanksgiving dinner was superb this year.
My mom made her famous potato rolls.
My niece made her famous cheese ball.
Before the meal Gigi made us go, one by one, around the table to say what we were thankful for.
It's good to have the young around at holidays because they seem to keep the meaning of the day in check.
People were thankful for pie, stuffing, good health.
Zoe was the last to have her say.
And she's thankful today for her family.
Those that sat around the table with her.
Her dining room table in her home.
And my mind went back.
Back in time.
To Thanksgiving 5 years ago.
When we weren't at home.
It was a routine procedure she was to have for her chemotherapy treatments.
She was 5 years old and had to have two injections in her thighs the day before Thanksgiving.
Our friends were driving down to visit with us from Northern Illinois.
They would continue on after visiting, traveling farther south the next day for turkey.
She had had this procedure twice already.
A drug called PEG-Asparaginase would be injected into the muscles of her thighs.
One nurse on the left thigh.
One nurse on the right thigh.
It took only seconds.
It hurt like a bitch.
And then she said "my throat feels funny."
I yelled to the nurses standing just outside the door "HER THROAT FEELS FUNNY!"
An allergic reaction.
She immediately started vomiting.
The two nurses started giving her more injections.
To counter-act the reaction.
And then the hives appeared.
All over her body.
Then the hives disappeared.
But not for long.
Then they only covered her face.
Then her feet.
Then her hands and arms.
Over and over and over this happened.
For the next three days, in the pediatric ICU she sat.
Getting enough Benadryl pumped into her little 48 pound body to knock out a 300 pound man.
And the hives wouldn't relent.
And she wanted to go home.
And she wanted her sister.
And she wanted to see her friends who hadn't been able to visit, but instead kept driving to their destination.
And the doctors had never seen this reaction before.
And it was Thanksgiving.
The doctors on call for the holiday weren't letting her eat anything.
For fear that the vomiting would come back and she would aspirate.
The cafeteria was serving Thanksgiving dinner for those stuck at the hospital for the holidays.
Hospitals are open every day of the year.
Never opting to close for a holiday because sickness takes zero days off.
So, my husband went down to the basement.
Got a plate of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and a roll.
Ate it by himself.
Sitting alone in a room full of strangers.
Others doing the same as he was.
Everyone was there for a different reason.
A sick parent.
A sick spouse.
A sick brother or sister.
A sick child.
When he returned to her ICU room, I went down.
Down to the basement to get my styrofoam plate filled with American cultural favorites.
A faint smile and a Happy Thanksgiving to those serving me.
I headed down the white hallway to the elevator.
It's a right, down a ramp, and then a left to the elevator that takes you from the general hospital area and cafeteria to the children's hospital.
I got on and pressed 5 on the buttons.
I was alone.
Alone in the hospital elevator with my plate of food in one hand.
The clear plastic lid was steamed up.
I had a plastic fork and knife in my other hand that was holding a piece of pumpkin pie.
Drinks came from the vending machine down the hall.
Zoe was asleep when I entered her room.
But soon awoke after smelling my food.
She hadn't eaten in a day and a half.
"No food" said the doctor on call.
"Whatever" said the mom feeding her daughter hospital turkey on Thanksgiving.
Because that's what family does.
They take care of one another.
Each Thanksgiving I am now grateful for my daughters.
That they are both at the table with us.
Because that one Thanksgiving, when we were separated and we had to eat next to an iv pole, we became who we are today.
And forever thankful.