Updated: Feb 20, 2018
In the south we lovingly refer to one who cries easily as a bawl-bag. I am definitely a bawl-bag. This is us, stray cats, newborn babies- just a few things that make me instantly weepy.
And, trust me, I have had ample reason to cry since my diagnosis. Especially at the very beginning as we grappled with all the scary what ifs. What if the cancer has spread to my bones? What if I don't live long enough for Malone to have memories of me? Thankfully we have more answers now and my prognosis is optimistic, so there are far fewer tears caused by panic.
But lately nothing makes me grab a tissue faster than everyday human kindness. Just this afternoon while I was treating Darby to Chick-fil-A (using a gift card given to us by our sweet neighbors) a server came over during our meal and presented me with a $25 gift certificate. The message on the card read “Because you are beautiful."
As I accepted the card, tears instantly pricked my eyes and I awkwardly stuffed another chicken nugget into my mouth in an attempt to save face.
From many moments of practice, I’ve learned to take a deep breath, swallow hard and not allow myself to totally lose it. Nobody needs to see my ugly cry face. I’m also quick to look away; it embarrasses me a little. Perhaps because I don't really feel that I deserve it. That's also why it's so special.
Generous, kind exchanges like this occur more than ever it seems. Sometimes it’s just a sad smile from a passerby at the supermarket acknowledging that they see me, can guess what I’m dealing with and feel for me. Other times it’s an acquaintance knocking at my door to deliver a home-cooked casserole. Mixed in with a stack of medical bills and insurance statements in my mailbox there’s almost always a handwritten card from a client, a friend, a cousin, or sometimes a total stranger just sharing words of empathy and encouragement. Darby, who is four and a half, sometimes catches a teary moment and asks why I’m crying. It’s so hard to explain to a child that these tears are the sweetest kind. But I do explain, as best I can.
I have been astounded and truly humbled by the goodness and warmth that I’ve been shown in the last two months. It pierces my soul, burns my eyes and reminds me that I am not alone. The health crisis that my family is dealing with often makes me feel isolated. But if I just look around I see that I am surrounded, practically engulfed, by loving, kind, wonderful humans.