So. Much. Love.

When I was a little girl, I loved to write letters. In between visits, my cousins and I would write back and forth to each other. During summer breaks, my closest friends and I would write to each other every few days; often making our own envelopes out of another sheet of paper. Sometimes we would fill them with confetti, which would cause quite a mess when opened! We would even look up the address to hotels and send letters to each other during family vacations. I remember excitedly checking the mail each day in anticipation of the arrival of a new letter addressed to me. There is just something so wonderful about receiving mail.

Although Jacob doesn’t know it yet, I’ve started (try) to pass along this love of letter writing to him. Each holiday, and every vacation, we send him a letter or post card. The letters usually have $1 in it and we share with him a few thoughts, words of wisdom or an event that occurred. We address it to him and mail it out – many times from our own mailbox. They are sealed and stored in a memory box for him to open sometime. We even did this when I was pregnant – addressed to “Baby”.

Where we live now, there aren’t mailboxes (in the typical sense) at each house but instead a large, metal mail box at the end of each road for all of the houses on that street. Typically, it takes a few days for us to check it because it isn’t right in front of our house. Since beginning this journey though, it has become a nightly tradition for us – something that I look forward to doing together. Jacob is strapped into his Radio-Flyer tricycle and we take a family walk to the mailbox together. Most days, that metal box is filled with a letter or a card or a package. Someone reaching out to send their love, their thoughts, their prayers or a surprise gift to let us know that they are thinking of us and that we are not alone in this journey.

Twice this week my husband returned from picking up little man with a gift for me; the first a gift basket filled with goodies from coworkers to remind me how strong I am and today an embroidered tote from daycare filled with goodies to keep me comfortable during treatment. This week, which is the hardest one for us, we have also been given a meal each night so we don’t have to cook.

And the list doesn’t end there – the calls, the texts, the fundraiser, the visits to see us, the prayers. So. Much. Love.

Writing this out, I can’t help but cry. I like to think that words come easy for me when writing but I don’t think I can properly express how much all of your kindness means to us. This is, by far, the most challenging, life-altering journey that we have ever been on and you have all done so much to help us through this. Each and every one of you. We are so humbled and so incredibly blessed with all of your love. There are so many different ways that one can demonstrate kindness, love and support…and I feel like we have seen every single possible way.

A dear friend said to me, “Our prayer is that this helps you and your family, even if it’s just a little.” Oh, but a little it is not. It is so much bigger than that.

Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Caldo Verde

When I was a teenager, my father worked overnights. He frequently worked double shifts as well and would come home exhausted. Somehow he even managed to fit in coaching softball for all of us. One weekend in particular, I wanted to do something nice for my dad as a way of saying thank you for all of the hard work he put in. When talking to my mom about it, she offered up the idea of making his favorite soup. Growing up, my grandmother would make Portuguese Green Soup – or Caldo Verde – for my dad and his siblings. I recall my father telling me about how lovely the house would smell as it simmered on the stove and how delicious it was paired with a nice crusty piece of bread to dunk in it. It was the perfect way to say thanks.

My mom took me to the grocery store and showed me how to pick out the freshest ingredients, helped me chop everything and sat with me while I watched it simmer. When my father came home from work, his eyes were tired. He smelled the soup as soon as he walked in and smiled wide. I remember feeling so proud that I could bring that smile to his face after a long day.

Since then, Caldo Verde has been a feel good meal for me. It is my go-to when I need something to warm me up from the inside out or if I want a reminder of home. This weekend, my sweet baby sister and her fiancé traveled down from Georgia to visit. They spend the weekend playing with little man, cooking meals for our family and taking care of me. Despite the side effects of treatment, the weekend was filled with smiles and belly laughs. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Tonight, thanks to my sister and her fiancé, I enjoyed a bowl of Caldo Verde for dinner. As the soup heated, the smell filled my house and I am once again reminded of the joy of family.

What meal reminds you of family?