Thanksgiving is four days away and I just spent fifteen minutes hacking my turkey in half.

I promise I have not gone completely mad. (OK, maybe I can’t confidently promise that, but if I have, the turkey has nothing to do with it.) I hacked my turkey into two turkeys because I need to make Thanksgiving happen in two different places this year: My house, and the hospital.

My husband J. has two older brothers. His eldest brother’s wife is a phenomenal woman, a force of nature, that one person who you all just know is the glue that keeps the entire family — nuclear, extended, chosen, whatever — bonded. She’s also been kicking ass and taking names on metastatic cancer for over a decade now, while raising three kids and working part-time and being just generally better at all human-ing than all of the rest of us. Because she is amazing.

As it turns out, even amazingness has its limits. And a few weeks ago, we found hers.

Things are kind of bad right now. I can’t sugarcoat that. She is with us, still, and staying strong, but there are a lot of things at the moment that we just don’t know. And in the midst of not knowing, there are three teenagers — one trying to stay on top of all this from college, 6 hours from home — needing support and parenting, and my brother-in-law has not slept in his own bed, or even any actual bed, for weeks. So the whole family is doing what families do, and we’re pitching in wherever we can to take as much pressure off as possible.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving.

Before the recent setbacks, we had already discussed the holiday with them, and said that while we’d be happy to host (as was the original plan), we’d be equally happy to do anything that would make the day whatever they wanted it to be. And they said they wanted to be here, with us. So we crossed our fingers and hoped, and planned for the best.

And then the first setback happened. And then another. And I started planning for the not-best scenario. I set up a menu that I felt could be mostly prepped ahead and finished off at the last minute, just in case we needed food that could travel. I bought a bunch of to-go containers and disposable baking pans of various sizes and stashed them away, crossing my fingers.

But tonight I pulled them back out and started taking stock of the situation, because on Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law and his ass-kicking wife and their three kids are going to be at the hospital, and one of the first things we said to him when this whole mess started to unravel was that we did not want him, in any way, to worry or wonder or stress about the holiday. If they can’t come to Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving is going to go to them.

So that left me, today, pondering the future of a 24-pound turkey and wondering what might be the best way to make that bird into two Thanksgiving dinners to be eaten in two separate locations, one delivered on Thanksgiving morning ready to serve, and the other to be cooked and eaten back at our house later in the day. And J. and I simply grabbed the knives and kitchen shears and whacked that turkey into two turkey halves and a carcass for soup, because we were not in the mood to mess around and after all that has happened there is just no way we were going to allow ourselves to be defeated by a damned piece of poultry.

When it was done, and we’d put two half-turkeys into two roasting pans — one disposable, one not — and wrapped them well, and wrapped the carcass and deposited it in the freezer for safekeeping, we turned on some Christmas music and we hugged each other in the kitchen.

So thankful.

I messaged our sweet niece and nephews and told them we loved them, and that a pan of their favorite crumb cake is coming their way on Thursday morning, and to make sure their mom gets the best piece.

So thankful.

I pulled out the food processor and made two pie crusts — one for us, and one to travel. I took stock of the pans and paper goods. I pulled out my notebook and started re-strategizing so everything would be ready, in two pans — one for us, and one to travel — by Thanksgiving morning. And J. called his mother to coordinate a drop-off point for a pan of stuffing and another of sweet potatoes. The pieces fell into place, and suddenly we felt strong and full of purpose in a way we haven’t felt since this whole mess began.

So thankful.

So thankful.

So thankful.

On Thanksgiving Day, we’re going to be giving thanks for what it really means to love people — to be a family, and to put it into action. And a half turkey, as it turns out, is really something to be thankful for.