23 November 2017

Note from Norm: My Thanksgiving Life

On October 19th, 2015 I shared on Facebook that a week earlier I had been diagnosed with cancer.

Last week I had my two-year anniversary check-up at the Mayor Clinic and remain, all thanks to G-d and remarkable caregivers, free of cancer.

There is gratitude overflowing in so many ways.

Gratitude to my wife, and my two kids, Jake and Sarah, who have been steadfast in this journey.  Who never doubted for a moment, even at times when I may have faltered, that faith and hope would guide me, and those caring for me, along the way in this fight against cancer.

There’s the gratitude, of course, to the doctors, nurses and everyone else who have treated me with skill, compassion and dedication.

It was the experience of those health professionals that diagnosed my cancer early, giving me and those treating me, the best chance to fight, and win, over cancer.

Friends and acquaintances, and people I have never met, surrounded me with love and prayers and expressions of kindness.

In a world in which more of all of that is needed for each of us I am grateful for those who lifted me up then and continue to do so today.

This week is one of Thanksgiving.  Tomorrow being the day of Thanksgiving.

Yet, for me, and every day since that fateful day the doctor looked at me and explained there was cancer inside my body, Thanksgiving is embedded in my DNA.

Which is not to say that I haven’t reflected throughout my life on the blessed existence I have had in 68 years around the sun.

As I find myself closer each day to 70 I understand more and more that daily reflection on what you have in your life is, in part, a measure of growing older.

For me, it is also an obligation to myself, to my G-d and to those who have given me the privilege of living this life.

Throughout my career in government and politics and, now, in the private sector, I see myself as one enormously small part of the world around me.

Yet, I have never doubted that even being a small part of something much bigger there was always a responsibility I had to try to make the world a better place.

In every way I felt was my calling I tried to do that.

I did not do it alone.

My successes in every arena and facet of my life wasn’t the result of a singular ability on my part.

It was the combined commitment of others who, for whatever reason, honored and humbled me by choosing to stand with me, for me, beside me, alongside me and sometimes in front of me, to achieve a common goal to make the world a better place.

I’ve tried to do the best I can to pay it forward.

Each day I try to continue that obligation to pay it forward.

This Thanksgiving, like so many others before it, I will gather with my family and my friends to the sound of laughter, the smells of a feast and the comfort of a home filled with love.

Some who once joined us at our table are no longer with us in person, but their spirit is indomitable and present in each of us.

I will soak it all in during the chaos and confusion and calamity that comes with Thanksgiving and family.

There will be the conversations that sound like we haven’t seen one another in so long even though we may have just seen one another a day or a week ago.

To all of you reading this it is my hope that you and your family find the day, and every day, of Thanksgiving to be as profoundly important to you as it is to me.

I hope for your gathering of friends and family to be filled with immeasurable gratitude for all reasons, big and small.

Take a moment to reflect on those in the room, and outside of it, and find your grace.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.

It is a singular day of gratitude.

For me, it is my Thanksgiving life.

Every single day.