Posted in cancer

Happy Birthday Honey!

My husband David celebrates a milestone birthday today, one of those that ends in a zero. I have a difficult time facing those birthdays. Somehow that number ending in a zero sounds so much older than the previous one.

This morning I asked David if the number bothered him and he answered “No, not a bit,” and immediately added, “It is much better than the alternative.”

Leave it to David to put things in perspective. He reaches another milestone this summer~ It will be five years since his cancer diagnosis. Five years is the magic number when a cancer patient is considered a cancer survivor.

While unearthing our spring comforter from storage yesterday I came across the brown cardboard box labeled “David’s cancer notes, cards and letters.”  When David spotted it, he asked to look through it. Some of it is painful to review: the pages of notes torn from the notebook I took with me to every single appointment, the journal I wrote in when I was alone at night while he was in the hospital, and the folder of information from the cancer center.  Then there are the cards and letters that filled our mailbox during that time.  The highlight of David’s days back then was the mail. There were friends and family members that made sure that not a week went by without a card or letter from them. The support was amazing, and made a big difference in David’s outlook. This photo shows just a fraction of the correspondence he received during his journey through cancer.  Occasionally an envelope included a nice newsy letter. Sometimes there would even be money or a gift card. Once, there was a $150 grocery gift certificate tucked inside a card signed “Jesus.” Another time “Someone who Cares” anonymously sent three one-hundred dollar bills.

If anyone doubts that the smallest of gestures means something to a person going through cancer, keep in mind that my husband even saved a homemade card from his niece Jasmine and I saved a piece of scrap paper David had written on when he was unable to speak with his tracheotomy. Each and every card or note meant something to us. They still do.

It gives me some comfort to imagine my grandson Jacob as a young man, going through his own box of cards and letters. Maybe partly because of his age, the outpouring of support has been tremendous. Not only have residents of our small town become a beacon of light in an otherwise dark situation, but friends, family, and even strangers have reached out to their family. Elizabeth keeps all the cards and letters and writes down the gifts the family has received.  Jacob has a “chemo-angel” who sends beautiful and lavish gifts during the times when he is facing a treatment. Another sends cards and smaller gifts. This program is something I’d like to volunteer for someday, as I am so intimately acquainted with cancer myself.   http://chemoangels.net/

There are those who have tried to tell me that if I but imagine Jacob as an adult, then he will beat this cancer and reach that status. I don’t believe that. If I did, I would simply imagine a lot of things. My mother would be alive. I’d win the lottery. My book would be sold. The same people would tell me it is my lack of faith that makes it not so. I don’t think I can make anything happen just by believing it. God doesn’t work that way. But there is no harm, and quite a lot of good, in thinking positively.

Today I want to wish my beloved husband a Happy Birthday, and my dear grandson a long and healthy life.

If you know someone with cancer, drop them a line today. You never know what that one little gesture means to them, or how years later it might still be appreciated.

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper and popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015.

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