November used to be one of my favorite months. I suppose it still is, but when I think of it; many more memories resonate. As I reflect on these memories, and of Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday), I realize that November is my favorite holiday because it directly reminds me to appreciate what I have. It reminds me of the importance and strength of gratitude even in bad times.


November is a confusing time.
It is a time of beauty
And a time of defeat.
And a time of fight.
And a time of triumph.

Leaves fade to brown
They fall from trees.
Children delight,
As they stomp
And crunch.

My favorite sound
Has always been
The crisp crush of a leaf
Under my sneaker.

The leaves face their defeat
As the days become cooler
And winter creeps in.

And oddly enough
during this time too,
We celebrate
My favorite holiday:

A time where the idea
Of gratefulness
Is encouraged.
Differences and anger
Are set aside.
Love is exuded.

Six years ago,
Around this time:
My brother experienced several seizures –
Leading to brain surgery –
And eventually a stroke.

He did not face defeat,
In spite of a deficit,
He worked and rose up.
Unlike the leaves,
he did not crunch under
the shoes of children.
And he regained what he had lost.

My brother is my November hero.
He is my always hero.

It was just November last year,
That I entered the hospital.
And for the first time,
I spent Thanksgiving without my family
Instead with other patients
In a place hours from where I lived.

We could not watch the parade,
The same parade I went to
With my father and brother just two years earlier.
We sat around the common room table
And we all tried to enjoy our hospital thanksgiving.

The weekend following I was discharged,
And I got to see my family –
But the usual gratefulness and love
Was replaced with hesitance and uncertainty.
I did not heal in the same way my brother had.

I look back on over 20 Novembers
I have experienced.
And I see that I am lucky,
Because in all of my years –
I have only had two sad Novembers
And many more happy, loving ones.

And even the sad Novembers,
Are not that sad –
Because they have led to happy progress.
For my brother’s strength,
For my strength
And for the strength of my family.

As I plan for this coming Thanksgiving,
And I talk with my family about the potluck
We have planned.
I know that even if I did not have immediate triumph
Last November.
I eventually found my way.

And this November,
I can reflect on the seven months
That I have spent out of the hospital
Since my last stay.
I can reflect upon the two and a half months
Of outpatient therapy since my last IOP session
And I can be grateful.

And while my stomach churns,
For fear of hospitals,
For fear of relapse,
For the confusion with which November brings.

I can carry the spirit of Thanksgiving
To appreciate and express gratitude
For the beauty.
And even for the defeat, because
It never truly was defeat.
It was fight
And it is triumph.



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