November 24. I went to the cancer support group on Monday. I wasn’t in the mood to be there. I’d just been told the day before that a dear friend had passed away. I was heartbroken and grieving, and it had nothing to do with my cancer and everything to do with hers. She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a little over a year ago. 

But I’m glad I went because there was a takeaway…thankfulness. Everyone who was there had a chance to say what they were thankful for during this Thanksgiving holiday season.

For me, it was easy. Shirley. I was thankful that in 1993 our paths crossed, and we became friends. Shirley was one of those people who is easy to love. Funny. Smart. Cheerful. Caring. Generous. She had style and grace. She was a devoted wife and mother. She was silly and kind and nurturing. I’m so thankful to have known her and loved her, and even more thankful that she loved me in return.

Her passing away made my cancer seem smaller and less significant. For a few hours she occupied my every thought. Every tear held treasured memories of our shared times. I still have moments of grief, but I will always be thankful. 

When I count my blessings, I count you twice. —Irish proverb