As all of you know, I’m cleaning out emails by the tons of KBs (more like MBs), and I’ve come across so really amazing emails. It seems a shame to throw them out! So I thought I would start a new category called Juicy Bytes and will share them with you! Not sure how this will work, but I’m sure it will all be splendid!
I sent this email to a woman who sent out a question over a listserv – sorry I don’t have the original email, but here’s my response to her question about ‘gift ideas’ for a friend going through cancer. This exchange occurred in January 2008 – too many good vibes to go to the delete button for sure!
One of my dearest friends had breast cancer a few years ago. She had a pair of ruby red slippers she wore her last day at chemo. She wore them out… like Dorothy clicking her heels and going home.
Since then, we’ve celebrated milestones. I don’t know if everyone is the same, but with my friend, the ‘date’ on the calendar each year is one where she is reminded because of oncologist follow-ups. So, on her one-year anniversary, I sent her two glass shamrocks from Red Envelope because we were feeling so “lucky” to have her with us and to express gratitude that she is alive and well. On another year (her anniversary is close to St. Patrick’s Day), there was another four leaf clover kit.
For your friend, it is going to be close to Valentine’s Day, so maybe something having to do with hearts and being heart to heart with her. Then you can have that special heart connection with her upcoming milestones.
What I found from listening to my friend is that it is the little things that meant so much. A yummy dinner dropped off when she didn’t feel like cooking, little cards sent here and there to keep her spirits up, a visit to drink tea – just to be together. I believe it is most about what your friend cherishes. My friend cherishes human connection above all things, so these are mini celebrations of who we are.
As I type this, I am reminded of all the crazy things we did during her cancer journey. We twirled around in circles in the Starbucks parking lot and let balloons go with our wishes attached. We took a day off to pamper ourselves together. Another day we just window shopped and ate and talked and talked. Another day we curled up at her house sipping tea and making plans for the future – our future together.
I was not one of the ‘inside’ team for my friend. She had many others who had gone through chemo who were there for her to show her the ropes on wigs, medicine, etc. I was there to be supportive and to hold the faith. I believe we all come with our ‘home team’ – each with our perfect role. Maybe your gift can be reflective of who you are for your friend. Or maybe it can be something that will help her feel more like herself – a housekeeper for a month if she’s feeling behind on housekeeping, a day at the spa for renewal, etc.
Best to you and your friend. We’ll be celebrating her recovery! I’m sure you will find the perfect gift to celebrate her life!
Here’s her response to my email:
Thank you So much for such a thoughtful and endearing email. I read it over several times, not just for the ideas you suggested, but for the warmth and understanding you portray.
I completely agree that is the little things in life that allow people to realize how lucky they are to have such caring friends/family, etc. It has been that exact human connection which has strengthened my girlfriend, and myself.
After having her first chemo session, I realized it would be nice to stop by the hospital during her next one and keep her company for a while. She loved the idea, and asked that I bring her lunch and we could act as though we were having lunch out together. I did, and this became a ritual for each of the next sessions. It helped her pass the time, and it helped ‘us’ to reinforce our already committed friendship.
With your terrific ideas, and those of others, I narrowed my gift list to a ‘pamper me’ event such as a massage/facial, a housekeeper, monogrammed slippers (which I saw on Red Envelope), a lovely cancer awareness bracelet (made by a woman, to order, with proceeds going to the ACS). But-in the end, I think I am going with this-I am having dinner with her and 2 other friends this week. I plan to bring my camera and have someone take a picture of the 2 of us. I will take that picture and buy a beautiful frame and give it to her as a sign of what our friendship means to me.
Thanks again, Tina, for such a lovely email.