Beyond the Valentine’s Day dinners, beyond the zodiac necklaces we prayed into, beyond the toys, the books and other gifts for people in numbing circumstances were the women who got up and shared their stories of receiving.
It seems it is not the giving that shifts us as much witnessing the receiving. How showing up at a meeting, signing a card and praying for people we sometimes don’t even know can alter the way people experience heartache.
I was at Atelier Salon (Thank you, Atelier!) today with my new friend Shea as she got a make-over to get ready for pictures with her 10 children tonight. Her hair looked beautiful and we hugged… and she cried… and she said the kind of thank you that comes out as two words but feels like a bijillion. (Is bijillion a real number? It feels like it is).
She left for home to have family pictures taken by Justin Baiter, who understands at a soul level the affects of cancer on a family. Shea had beautiful pictures taken and an hour later her husband shaved off the hair that started to fall out earlier this week. Her willingness to allow us into her life brings me to my knees.
Then at the meeting two other women who have received from Heartworks shared their thank yous. I know these types of thank yous…the type when no word or tear or hug seems to express what the thank you feels like inside. I know these types of thank yous because I have had the privilege of saying them myself. The gift of being in a darkness you want nothing to do with, but it is upon you, and so you say “yes” to help and then this “yes” turns into a thank you that you can barely comprehend. I understand this type of thank you. Heartworks exists as one of these thank yous. Heartworks is me saying thank you to the world for what you did for my sister after September 11th.
Heartworks is a living thank you.
I am blessed to understand these kind of thank yous. These women showed us, in a way I could never convey, the exact reasons why we show up month after month and do what we do, one act of kindness at a time. The tears, the head nodding and the “umm hmms” made me feel like we were in a revival church (can I get an AMEN?!) Every woman there could connect to the suffering in one way or another.
What I know is that every woman there was shifted in one way or another. This means that we were different people when we arrived back home and this is my greatest prayer…that we are opened just a little bit more to the vulnerabilities of life and the grace that sets in during the darkest of times. Tonight was about love, loss, survival and hope. Add the Pinot Grigio and pink M&Ms and it was a damn powerful night. Thank you for showing up, thank you for staying open, thank you for creating miracles (a shift from fear to love) for 16 families this Valentine’s Day. And thank you families for saying “yes”.
P.S. I didn’t fully understand the power of the night until 2:15 a.m. when I woke up and realized my dog had pooped ALL OVER my living room rug. EEEEEWWWWWWWW. I found myself on my hands and knees in the middle of the night, cleaning up poop and feeling as blessed as could be. I even tried to feel annoyed (cause I thought a rational, normal person should be!) and I couldn’t muster up a bit of aggravation. Not one bit. That’s what a full table of family stories and thank yous will do to you. Not even dog poop in the middle of the night can rattle you. This is the gift of Heartworks.