The Only Thing That Really Matters (P.S. It's Not Chocolate)

I know it’s December, but I’m still thinking about Thanksgiving. And it’s because of my brothers.

Yes, because I’m thankful for them, but there’s more to it.  It really comes down to that I don’t see them enough.  

We see each other every Thanksgiving which is pretty incredible for a family strewn across the country:  My mom is in Hawaii, I’m in California, one brother is in Michigan and the other brother is in New York.

But about 5 years ago we made it a priority to see each other every Thanksgiving, because life is short. And family is what matters.

Here’s what happened.

Also about 5 years ago, our dad died.  To say our lives were upended would be an understatement.  

I was at work when I got the call that he was in the ICU.  Without thinking, I booked a flight to Hawaii for the next morning.  I booked my trip for 3 days, but ended up staying 10.  

At that time, I had a very intense job in sales & trading for J.P. Morgan. I also had two small kids and an incredible husband.  

But here’s the thing.  

None of that occurred to me in the moment.  I didn’t even think twice about leaving my husband and girls.  I knew they would be more than ok.  They were.

And work? That really didn’t matter. I knew my partner would close my open trades and my clients would understand.  And if they didn’t?  I didn’t care. 

By the time I got to Hawaii, my dad was intubated, so he never knew I was there.  But I knew Hawaii was the only place I was supposed to be.  I just needed to see him. To be with him.  I didn’t know how long I had.

My brothers knew it too.

After a few days my older brother arrived from New York where he was (and is) an extremely busy divorce lawyer.  But work didn’t matter.

And my younger brother came too, leaving a very pregnant wife, a small child and the ridiculously important final stretch of his Gastroenterology fellowship in Chicago.  But none of that, including his medical degree, mattered either.

Our dad was more important.  

During the 3 months my dad was in the hospital, I flew to Hawaii almost every other weekend.  And sometimes I stayed for a week.  My brothers flew in all the time too.  We were stressed, tired and tearful, but we were together.  

It all seemed normal until I realized that before our dad got sick, we actually hadn’t seen each other in a long time.  

And then it hit me.

When we were growing up, we were together every single day until we left for college.   And then, *poof*, we barely saw each other again.  

In the beginning, we’d reconvene in Hawaii for summers and holidays, but once we settled down in our various cities, and when work and family started in earnest, we were lucky to see each other once a year.  And most years, not even that.  

But the year our dad got sick?  That was different. And it changed us.

It seemed like I spent more time with my brothers in those three months than all of the years since we left for college, combined.

There was something so wrong with that.  But something really beautiful, too.

Because when the chips were down, we all dropped everything to be together, as a family.  It made us realize that that’s what this life is all about.  

And that’s when we started our tradition of spending Thanksgiving together, no matter what.  And we have.   

So, as I’m reflecting on Thanksgiving and alllll the family "hubbub" that goes along with it, I’m just reminded all over again of the special bond and deep love we share. Siblings don’t get to pick each other.  And they certainly don’t have to love each other.  

But we do.  And I am so grateful for them on Thanksgiving, and every day.  

But there's one more thing.

I also learned (and keep re-learning, goddammit) that life is short.  

Tell the people you love that you care about them. 

Splurge for whipped cream, find adventures, and do something that scares you (safely) every day.

And most importantly, CHASE the HELL out of your DREAMS. The only thing you'll ever regret is not giving it everything you've got.