I hope you all had a lovely Valentine’s Day, Saturday, Sunday, and President’s Day.
I sure did, but I am happy to write again. I was getting itchy fingers yesterday after a visit to one of my favorite places: the farm.
Tractors speak peace to my soul.
It is a funny thing writing a blog because I am telling the stories, and I have control over what I want to publish or not--and yet, I can’t tell my story without a whole host of other folks that shape my very fingerprints. I need each one of them to make my story, even if they only play a minor role in mine.
But the thing is--THEY all have THEIR own stories with their own publication rights! I don’t want to presume to tell other people’s stories for them, but sometimes we overlap in ways where it is impossible to explain the ME without the THEM.
I mention this because I didn’t ask this particular fingerprint shaper if I could write about her, but I would like to, and she is so precious to me and so delicate; I worry even this small amount of publicity would throw her stomach in knots.
I am going to be vague to preserve her anonymity.
I am going to use pseudonyms for the same reason.
I will assume the name, “Daniel.”
But I will call her "Veronica."
I met Veronica because of her cancer.
I ran into her husband and son at a community festival. I knew of them because of church, but I think our longest conversation involved exchanging names and handshakes. I knew she was sick, and that was all, so I asked how she was doing.
“Oh she is not well,” he said, shaking his head for emphasis. “Do you know what is going on with her?” he asked.
I said I didn’t, and with the objectivity of a medical examiner he listed off a host of unfavorable symptoms that funneled down to one formidable prognosis, “Cancer,” he said. And then with finality, “This is going to be the thing that kills her.”
“Is there anything I can do?” I asked. I knew it was a long shot; I was practically a stranger, but we were linked by faith, so I thought maybe among my limited resources and experiences there was something I could bring to lift up their hands. Maybe cookies?
“Well, she could use a visitor during the day,” he offered. “She would really like that.”
So I went to their house one day, out of the blue, without calling before. Veronica opened the door and I told her I had come to visit, and she started talking with me as if we were resuming a conversation that had been cut off too soon. She had no trepidation about sharing what she was feeling about her diagnosis. She was afraid and distraught, but she was hoping for the best. She showed me craft projects she was working on, noting she couldn’t do anything that might take too long. “Just in case,” she said.
When I left, her boy ran to the screen door and called out after me, “Please come back and see us!”
And I did.
I came back often. Veronica and her boy were always excited to see me. We’d go into their living room and sit together and the boy would tell me all about cars and other things that interested him. Then we’d review the latest happenings in Veronica’s treatments before I headed out the door, where the boy would call after me, “Please come back!”
I never stayed long; Veronica didn’t like to be sick in front of people, so short visits were good visits. And I definitely didn’t do much, but I loved being there. Veronica made me feel as though my empty hands were just what she needed, like I was doing a great thing by eating her home-grown apricots and slobbering the juice on her couch. I would leave feeling bright and special. And then her boy would assure me I was needed by calling out for me to come back.
There was evidence of other friends all around their house; a loaf of fresh baked bread, a box of peaches, scads of flowers, but Veronica made me feel like my offering was just as valuable to her.
As I was thinking about her today, I kept thinking of this lyric:
"Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy Lord"
and I could see my young, scared self knocking on the door with my small, empty hands. And I could imagine Veronica filling them up with apricots.