Wednesday, May 26, 2004

“The Kindness of Strangers. And Psuedo-Strangers. And Even Some People We Already Know, Too.”

You know, up until recently in my quasi-adult life I had been operating under the (obviously false) illusion that I was a relatively charitable, kind, thoughtful, giving sort of gal. What proof, you ask? Oh sure, there’s the really *really* obvious giving, like donating to charities (MDA for me and Ducks Unlimited for Blaine) and tithing for church. Dropping change in the Ronald McDonald buckets around town. Donating blood for the Red Cross. Donating hair to a Locks of Love charity, which I did a few years ago for bald kids. (Ironic, huh?) Buying Girl Scout cookies (does charity count if I eat the cookies myself?) and supporting a local lemonade stand or making something for a bake sale.

I tried to serve my fellow man in other ways as well: clothes to Goodwill, food to the church pantry, waving down the firefighters in busy intersections on Labor Day to drop money in a boot, hell, I even brake for squirrels. But no amount of giving prepares you for being suddenly on the RECEIVING end of such kindness!

This week is not even 72 hours old and we have been on the receiving end FOUR times already! It’s almost enough to make a family blush! With gratitude, of course.

First, to the kind person who submitted Kendrie’s name to the people who run Basket of Hope, the program that delivers baskets to children newly diagnosed with cancer. “Basket” is an understatement. It's like calling Lake Erie "a little puddle". You should have seen this thing. Santa should hang his head in shame. Thanks to Pam and to Angela for such a wonderful, wonderful delivery, from three very happy children!

Second, to Ms. Ella at Daddy’s work, for giving each kid a goody bag stuffed full of fun things to do and eat (“Kellen, stay AWAY from the Pez!”) on our vacation this week. It has taken every bit of parenting savvy I possess to convince them to wait until tomorrow when we actually leave before digging in. Ms. Ella, the kids thank you, and in anticipation of a car ride, a plane ride and another car ride to get where we need to be (Holy crap, it’s going to be a long day) Blaine and I thank you as well!

Third, to Mrs. Smith’s 2nd grade class at Timmerman Elementary School in Pflugerville, Texas (c/o Madison R.) for making and sending so many beautiful get well cards to Kendrie.

She immediately sat down to “read” them all today and is sleeping with them all around her in bed as I type this. She’ll probably wake up with paper cuts on her cheek, but she’ll be happy! Thank you, Madison, for your thoughtfulness in sharing Kendrie with your class!

And finally, to the anonymous person who gave me the final pull I needed out of my pool of despondency (aka self-promoted pity party). If you’re someone who reads this journal, then let me say Thank You for the card, the gift, and most of all for the incredibly supportive note, right when I needed it. It was a real boost and I truly appreciate it. (And you know I can’t wait to go eat!)

Honestly, it’s been a bit difficult to go from “giver” to “taker”. Maybe it’s from being a military family all these years and usually doing things on our own. Maybe it’s from being just plain pig-headed, who knows? I’d like to think I can do it all myself …. But of course I can’t. I spent yesterday tied up with the here-and-now aspect of cancer; putting “magic cream” on Kendrie’s arm and then wiping away the tears when she realized what that meant, driving her to the lab, holding her while she fussed and cried during the blood draw, making sure she wasn’t around anyone sick in the lab, then spent the afternoon playing phone-tag-referee between the lab here, and the clinic in Atlanta, to see why no one was getting the blood count results they needed when they needed them. So although I took care of the tangible, physical needs from yesterday, I didn’t think to take care of emotional needs, like the happiness a basket or get well card would bring my daughter.

Thankfully, the “Oh my goodness, this poor family is falling apart, someone send over a meal before they crack!”----urgency is gone, but it’s amazing to me that even now, seven months after diagnosis, so many people still take the time to show our family how much they care. I don’t mean gifts … or treats … or packages …. (although of course that’s what my KIDS think it’s all about!) but the phone calls, the e-mails and messages in the guestbook, the cards, the prayers … I’m rambling now, aren’t I?

I don’t know how we can ever repay it all, except to try harder to help others. I have no sense of entitlement, but a sincere feeling of appreciation, and humblement. (Is humblement a word???) Humbleness? Well, whatever the correct word might be, we feel it and say thank you.

Love, Kristie


BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: If that smile up there doesn't say it all, then what does?!? And, I get to see my Grandma and Papa and Granny and Grandad and Aunt Kelly and Uncle Cliff and my cousins Dalton and Landon and Lawson and Daxton in just two more days, wahooooooooo!

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