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From the Shrink's Desk

November, 2006 - "A Table Full"

At the beginning of the holiday season, our extended family is about to sit at the Thanksgiving table. This time, at an assisted living facility, where other hands will be cooking the meal, in a room rented for the family to gather. As I look around the table tomorrow, my blessing will be realizing how rare it is that we are able to have so many loved ones in one place at one time – if just for an imperfect, fractious moment. Young, some home from college, some zooming through puberty. Old, some on the brink of hospice, some befuddled and tired, but still here. There will be sports jerseys and size 14 shoes, cheeks sprinkled with acne, gorgeous young girls with straightened hair, others bending over a wheelchair, and middle-agers. Many of us have traveled across several states to be here. What a rare moment, before the great wheel of life turns again.

We have met for years exactly like this (but in someone’s home), but this year I seem to understand the fleetingness of our time with each other. The young adults will move on, and so will the old. Some at the table have thus far led a blessed life – untouched by any misfortune. Others, including some of the young ones, have struggled with life-threatening illnesses and chronic disease, crippling depression and stunning failures. We join in all our imperfection, our silliness and preoccupation, our greatness and growing wisdom. If we are lucky, we sit at the Thanksgiving table able to give true thanks, albeit for a life that we barely understand. I hope you can too. 

--Diane Fisher, PhD


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