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day 37: waves of love

March 10, 2011

I’m not really sure how to write about Day 37’s gift, and I guess I don’t really want to.

I think the only way to do it is to plunge in, feet kicking and lungs screaming, and hope for the right words.

A few days ago, one of my close friends from college sent me an email.  In it, she shared the news that a woman we’d gone to school with — someone I didn’t really know but a sorority sister of many of my friends — had just been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.  Nine days before that, her husband had been diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer.  They have an eighteen month-old daughter.

While you take a moment to breathe in that cloud of sadness, I’ll seize this opportunity to clarify my intentions:  I’m really not trying to make a spectacle of this woman.  It would be dishonest of me to call her a friend.  I don’t deserve to appropriate her story, and I certainly don’t want to co-opt anyone else’s pain.

After I read about her, though, I reflexively and awkwardly emailed Laura, the family’s identified contact.  I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but it was something like, “I don’t really know this family…  I heard about what happened…  I’d like to help in some way…” and on and gracelessly on.

In short, I sounded like a crazy person.

A full day passed.  Once I had time to consider the message I’d sent, I began to feel vulnerable.  The insecure teenager dwelling inside me expected a response from Laura like, “Wait… now, who are you?  And why is it that you’re writing?”

That was not Laura’s response (but you already knew that, didn’t you?).  Instead, she wrote,  “What a kind offer. As horrible as this experience has been (in terms of what they have been going through) it’s notes like yours that have made it such a moving experience. Thank you!”  She also told me that, if I wanted to be helpful, summer clothes for the couple’s daughter were needed as both parents were receiving treatment and had little time to shop.

The clothing-for-a-little-girl part of this exercise was too easy.  I’d coincidentally printed off a department store coupon that very morning, and using it I bought toddler girl clothes in the brightest colors I could find — hot pink and teal and yellow with stripes — as if tiny candy-colored t-shirts might just make it all better.

I threw in a sweet board book about family.

All of this went into a box with the belief that unseen hands are lifting them up, and that miracles happen every day.

Once I’d done that, I visited my good friend Melanie’s blog, Fredonia Falldown.  Usually, she posts beautiful photos and writes about life in Atlanta, but  she wrote here about this family’s story.  I was awed and comforted by her post, imagining this family feeling “waves of love coming from all corners of the planet.”

Do you understand what I meant about not wanting to write about Day 37?

Little girl clothes are fun to buy.  Giving gifts to a near-stranger who never asked me for anything, however, shoved me so far outside my comfort zone I am still reacting.

How are you reacting?  If you are also affected by this family’s story, let me know and I’ll share their contact information.  You might send them a note, or, like Melanie says, you might send out good thoughts or sit in prayer.

Maybe each of us could hold them in our hearts for just a moment today.

Today, I hope you hold on tightly to all that is good.  Thank you, again, for showing up.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Spacemonkeey permalink
    March 11, 2011 3:08 am

    It always amazes me how genuine and thoughtful your words are. Beyond that, that you go beyond what the normal person even thinks to do in the normal week. Gold star.


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