Hey my people,
Last night was hopping at our eccentric homestead in Silverlake, California, where we hosted our second annual Early Thanksgiving party celebrating life beyond cancer.
For the past couple of weeks I've been the leader of a small and increasingly hysterical group of people, united in the effort to make this house look like the kind of environment where you'd want to have a party. My partner and I are writers, meaning we are shy, retiring types, not much given to entertaining because that would involve housework. One Thanksgiving some years back, one of my relatives, seeing that I couldn't locate a single pot, pan, or dish towel in our kitchen, commented: "Do you actually live here?"
My limitations aside, however, this particular party had to happen. Because the first Early Thanksgiving was so wonderful.
The first week of November in 2009, when I was finally, finally done with radiation, chemo, and the works, my friends had the genius idea to throw me a Thanksgiving dinner without waiting for the old-hat normal Turkey Day.
Between the three kinds of pie and the relief to be alive, it was the best party ever. Looking around the table, face-to-face, surrounded by wonderful people, I knew that for me, healing is love. I wanted other cancer veterans to have the feeling I had then.
That's where my idea for Well Again was born. When you've been through the cancer mill, you can't just throw yourself back into life like nothing happened. Life needs to show you a little hospitality.
Believe me, Well Again is not just about sweetness and light. With my friends, the tartness brings the zing. My childhood hero Auntie Mame said, "Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death." If that's the criterion, my twisted buddies never miss a meal.
Last year at this time was supposed to be Early Thanksgiving. But on the day of the party, Rita and I got kind of phone call that stops parties in their tracks. Her sister's cancer had taken a turn for the worse. Now was the time to get to the hospital. We actually packed Early Thanksgiving turkey in the car, and it became the main dish for the vigil.
This year, though, our celebration of life was in full swing. There were mountains of food; there was even football. (UCLA versus somebody or other.) The house was full of friends, some of them cancer veterans like me, some just really good at loving people who've had cancer.
(That second group deserves thanks on its own: we've all met people who hear "cancer" and run the other way, but my posse shows up better than I do, because that's how lucky I am.)
To kick off the party last night, we had a traditional rite--yes, already we have a tradition!-- born at the first Early T/G. Everybody made hand turkeys and posted them on my Foamcore of Creativity wall in the living room. The kid-ness of it put everybody in the party zone.
So today was cleanup, and tomorrow I get back to the business of Well Again. Next year, we'll have more people for early Thanksgiving, because more of us will be on the Well Again voyage together. I think there will be many parties, not just one. I don't know the details -- yet. But I will.
Here's our invitation and our challenge, for this Early Thanksgiving and forever: Let's party till we're Well Again!