Given our predicament, we've been on the receiving end of a great deal of kindness and generosity over the past four months. At the beginning, the kitchen counters were piled high with brownies and chocolate cakes and pies and shortbread. A favorite couple friend sent one of those elaborate fruit arrangements; another brought baked chicken; another ravioli. There was so much food that we had to buy another refrigerator, which served the dual purpose of allowing us to have enough food to serve all the people dropping by and to put out that which they'd brought.
That time has passed for the moment. As a social worker said near the beginning, a crisis only lasts for so long. "Figure four to six weeks," she predicted, and she was right. You can only tolerate that high-pitch of living for so long and then things have to return to some regularity, albeit one that doesn't feel regular with all the medical appointments, trips to the pharmacy, and suchnot.
But then out of the blue (wonder why that expression isn't "out of the black"), long after the initial crazy period has died down, something else happens.
One morning a package arrived with Amy Reece's return address. "You seem to have a book from Amy," Jeff said, handing it to me. It didn't feel like a book because it was soft (in retrospect, I guess it could have been one of those fabric books for the twins, but that didn't occur to me).
Inside something wrapped in turquoise tissue paper and tied with a lime green ribbon, along with a card in the same colors with a lovely personal note. The gift? A silky soft pale green pashmina. I love pashminas, wear them as often as I can, and, as with all women who have them, wish I had one in every color. I didn't have this color and it goes beautifully with a number of pieces I have.
I don't know how Amy knew how much I love pashminas. We've never discussed them. In fact, we've never even met face-to-face. We worked on a project together for Cisco last year, spoke a few times on the phone, clearly liked each other but I never would have expected her to know what was going on with us -- and certainly never expected a gift like this. Somehow she found out and decided to respond this way.
Here's a bit of the note I wrote Amy later that day. It says everything I'm working up to saying here:
We've received many notes, dear Amy, from people we know well and from those whom we hardly know, many of which end with "please let me know what I can do." The words that always come to mind are "find a cure for pancreatic cancer" or, in my more cynical moments, "You want me to not only deal with this but also figure out how to make you feel better about it???" I'm ashamed of those feelings, of course, but they're really there.
Every now and then - and only from our closest friends - something completely unexpected appears that sands off all that meanness in me, takes away a few moments of the pain, and makes the whole experience not worth it exactly but elevated to a level of connectedness that I've rarely experienced.
Such is your gift of kindness, my dear.
Thank you so very much, Sweet Amy. May I blog about this? I want the whole world to know who you are.
So now I'm blogging about it (she didn't object). Again, here's Amy's site. You now know how kind she is and by clicking you'll see how talented.