I’ve been busy with Thanksgiving, so I’m posting this old favorite from my Good Housekeeping blog. Now I am thankful for three years in remission, and for you, the fans who keep on coming back to MommaSaid. Thanks.
We’d already been to 9 a.m. mass that morning, so the thought of going to church twice in one day made my son – the one who’s not in the choir – act as though we’d suggested that he visit the dentist and a have a “pretty princess” birthday party, one right after the other.
To be honest, I wouldn’t have gone to our church’s Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Prayer ceremony if my other son wasn’t singing in the choir. In fact, that’s the only reason why we found ourselves there on Sunday night. Though we’ve been going to our church just about every Sunday for more than 14 years, we’d never before gone to this special event.
My son’s Children’s Choir shared the stage with the Adult’s Choir and the Cherub’s Choir, a group of about two dozen very enthusiastic first-through-third grade children who didn’t so much sing “Holy is Thy Name” as they shouted it with glee.
At least somebody was happy to be there.
But by the time the nun from our church took the pulpit for her turn to address the congregation among the ministers, priests, rabbis and even the mayor, I, too, was glad to be there. And not just because my son was one of the singers.
Standing with the Adult’s Choir just a few feet from my son was a teenage boy with the silky voice and confident stage presence of American Idol’s David Archuleta. When he sang a solo, I saw my son look up at him in awe and admiration, and I was happy for him. What a great experience for my fourth grader.
But what I saw in the teenager was my son a few years from now. I held back tears and said a little prayer in my head: “Please let me be here to see my son sing in the Adult’s Choir.” And then I caught myself. This was supposed to be celebration to say thanks, not please. So I thanked God for letting me celebrate a year in remission after battling non Hodgkin’s lymphoma for nearly as long.
And then Sister Ellen took the pulpit and led us in a prayer to a “Heart-searching God”:
You would not give us stones if we asked for bread;
You would not give us a scorpion if we asked for an egg.
Give us what we need as well as what we ask.
When she finished, the entire choir stood up, and I listened to my son sing, “Deep down I know, I must thank God,” while the Cherub Choir shouted it with joy, some with their song sheets obscuring their faces, while others sang it from memory.
I thought back to last Thanksgiving, still in my head scarf just weeks after finishing up my cancer treatments. I wouldn’t find out until January that the chemotherapy and radiation had worked; I was in remission.
Deep down, I know, I must give thanks, but I hope that God will give me what I ask, too: years and years of Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Prayer ceremonies, whether my son sings in the choir or not.