Category Archives: moms with cancer

The Gift

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Once upon a time, about 27  years ago, I had this friend….

We worked together for a couple of years or so, and shared one of those “office BFF” relationships. We hit it off immediately when we met. Even though we spent very little time together outside of work hours, the 40 hours each week we DID spend together forged a deep friendship.  We spent every day sharing stories of our lives– listening, giving advice, laughing. I remember us laughing ALOT. She was one of the happiest, most uplifting people I had ever met. Bubbly, funny, constantly smiling. She was, in every sense of the word, a truly beautiful person both inside and out. I’m sure you all have met someone in your life that you connected with like that. You felt like a better person simply by knowing them.

Then, as it does, life happened. We each went our separate ways…marrying, moving away to other states and onto other jobs or the next stage in our lives.

Now remember, this was “pre-internet”, friends. No Googling or Facebooking. No cell phones or Twitter. I realize that some of you youngsters may find it hard to imagine a world like that, but believe it. Sadly, we lost touch with each other, and I hadn’t seen or heard from her in all these years.

Then, just recently, it happened.

I sat down at my computer, and saw I had a message. I clicked on it and saw her name. There was a last name that was new, of course, but it was definitely her. My special friend from so long ago.  It brought so much joy to reconnect with her after all these years, and even though she lives out of state and we haven’t been able to get together yet, I know that when we do, it will be like we were together just yesterday.

The other day she asked me for my address, saying she had something she wanted to send me.  I never really gave it much thought, and actually forgot about it.

Today, in my mailbox, I found one of those yellow cards that says “item too large for box”. As I was pulling it out, I began to panic a little, knowing that I hadn’t ordered anything…and my first thought was “Oh my gosh, what did Gino buy? I am going to strangle him if he ordered something online….”. And in my own defense, I have every right to question that, because this IS the kid that charged over $400 to my debit card while buying “power up bundles” in the Angry Bird game on his iPad. Lucky for him, he was in the clear this time.

The postmaster handed me a large cardboard box with Priority Mail stickers on it , and then I saw the return address, It was from her, my friend.  I was totally puzzled. So this is why she wanted my address. I figured maybe I’d get a card or something from her…but a rather large cardboard box? So of course, I opened it, and there was this:

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Well, I sat there in stunned silence for a few moments. And then I just started crying. Okay, bawling is probably a better description of it. It wasn’t pretty. And it lasted a while. I’m not sure why…I guess just the sheer surprise of the gift, from someone so special, after all these years….it touched me more than I can explain. And when I told her how special it was, but also too extravagant and I couldn’t accept it, she said she knew I loved this bag and had come across it, and knew it was meant to be that I have it. And then she told me this:

“I cannot tell you how blessed I am in my life right now, Jill. It’s meaningless and no fun if you cannot share with others…”

And she is so right, isn’t she? Her words really hit me, and I kept thinking about them, over and over. They stirred a part of me that I had buried this past year. Even though I didn’t consciously do it, I had let the realities of some difficult life situations take over. When I did that, I allowed some blessings that I was hoping to share with others, be derailed. Early in 2014, I had come up with an idea to start a non-profit organization that helps mothers battling cancer, by setting up a network of providers who volunteer to give free care to her children during doctors appointments, chemo treatments, or simply during times of needed rest.

When we found out that my sister had cancer, I had just been laying the groundwork for the non-profit, meetings had been set up with lawyers and other professionals that would be giving their input, and there had been brainstorming sessions going on. Feedback from other organizations and medical facilities about their excitement to be able to extend this service to families in need was thrilling. I knew that a lot of lives will be touched by it and I was anxious to get things rolling. But with the news of her being sick, and knowing that the months ahead would be physically and mentally challenging, everything was put on hold.

Months later, after my sister passed away, there was still a lot of emotional baggage to sift through, not to mention that I was doing major purging of my household and personal belongings to get prepared to move this past month, and trying to get settled. I will admit now that I was struggling in many ways, even though I tried my best to hide it. Stretched too thin would be a good way to describe how I felt. I think for a lot of that time I was on “autopilot”. I took the idea of “one day at a time” to a new level. Of course I made sure the kids were cared for, went to work, did all the typical “mom” stuff. But it was with a survival mode type of mentality. I had lost that part that was so passionate about giving and wanting to help. I rarely gave the non-profit a thought during that time.

I’m sure my friend didn’t realize that her gift to me would be much more profound than simply a fabulous bag from my favorite designer. Being the kind, generous soul that she is, she sent that to me out of love and kindness, to bring me happiness…sharing her blessings, and expecting nothing in return.

Her gift, and words, brought that part of me back to life that I had buried for a while. I was reminded of how meaningless life’s blessing are if we don’t share them. And in that moment, I could feel that part of me come alive again.

THAT is the power that giving and receiving holds.

Perhaps in receiving we heal others, and in giving we heal ourselves.

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I’m now anxious to pick up where we left off with the non-profit. It’s a slow process, time and resources are limited, but I have faith that it will come to fruition and I will see my plans turn into action in helping others.

Who knew that fab Michael Kors bag could bring about all of this, right?

Cheers, and don’t forget to share your blessings,

Jill ❤