Each gift had a little note and a lot of love.
Any kind of illness is a lonely thing.
Terminal illness is downright isolating. Both the person who is ill and those that heartachingly love them are forced to confront new experiences, expectations and the loss of what was once taken for granted alone. Yes, there is the support of one another, the joy of gathering together, the hope in another's hug. But at the end of a a very long day, when everyone has gone to sleep or gone home, what we are really left with are the things that rattle about within ourselves. It is a remote kind of existence.
I know that at this point I should seek someone out, should talk about it. And I will. But the thing is that talking is really no better at communicating my reality than a piece of abstract art. It's like showing someone a dash of blue across a white canvas and hoping they understand it is the sky as it has appeared in every one of your childhood memories. Lovely, maybe. Important even. But no one will ever know what that sky really looked like. So I am keeping quiet. And in the quiet, the lonesomeness grows.
I am blessed by people who must understand this about me. Since my dad has been ill, I've received care packages from across the world. Beautiful boxes full of activities for the kids, bath salts to help me relax, cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, flowers and lovely quotes. Every one a lifeline in a storm that for which I feel so ill prepared. I can't explain it, but these packages that give while demanding nothing of me, have made me feel so gathered in. They seem to me to be an acknowledgement that while I can't find a way to share what is happening to me, there can be joy in sharing the light that bounces each of our lives so uproariously. Each box has been a little world that I got to sink into for a moment before returning to the one that hurts me right now.
I am so grateful. I am also now an official convert to the religion of the care package. I'll be sending them for illnesses and weddings and it-looks-like-it-might-rain-next-thursdays. I am going to fill the world up with them, until the environmental police call me down for all the boxes I've used and the chocolate factories ring asking me to please stop, because I've used up all their sweets. I am going to bankrupt us sending out my love into the world. And I am going to do it smiling.
Every package has been a work of loving art, but I was too greedy to break into them and enjoy their spoils to take a proper picture. With the arrival of a gift from my friend, Rachel, I decided the documentation had to start. The box she sent all the way from England was a little piece of blissful perfection right down to the Orla Kiely box that held it. I am using her gifting prowess as my forever gift giving template. I think you might be wise to do the same. She included chocolates for the children and chocolates for me. Important, as adult confections are superior and I don't care to share. There was a book of poetry, manna for the word out soul if ever any existed. Notebooks for the thoughts that need to be given breath. Happy mints because I could use the help. And a postcard of Rodin's Le Baiser to as she put it, "soothe the soul". (She was right. It does.) The letter written on the back of the postcard was the perfect mix of love, empathy and humor. I was lifted and refreshed. I ate chocolate while reading Burns and for just a moment I could see the beauty that waits for me outside of this moment. More importantly, I could see the beauty that waits for me within this moment.
Thank you everyone. Thank you so much for helping me. And more importantly, thank you so much for teaching me how to help others.
I am blessed.