Angels Among Us
There have been so many people I have met through this journey and some of them have really stuck in my mind, for the most part, I refer to them as angels. Before I was diagnosed when I would see someone that I could tell was obviously sick or ailing, I would just give them a courteous, "Hello," smile and move on. Now, I find myself engaging either with a bit of small chat, "How are you today?" or "Can you believe this weather?!" I am not sure if those people can feel the difference, but I can. The human element is so healing and I am learning it first hand.
My UPS driver is a wonderful example of someone who has stepped out of his usual, "Here's your package," mode to a man whom I know actually cares; and it matters, a lot. I have seen the UPS man often, Jody orders motorcycle parts and various other items quite regularly and often those items show up when I am home and he is not. The UPS man has always been genuinely nice and seemingly happy but one day when he did the quick two-knock on the door, I opened it. I am sure I was a shocking site. I was ashen gray-white, in my flannel jammies with a big bulky sweater on and I could hardly walk. This man was, I am guessing, expecting the normal, "Here's your package," type of delivery and instead was met with an obviously very sick woman. He stopped short, his expression changed instantly and he said, "Are you okay? Can I do anything for you?" And he meant it.
I am not one to have the words, "I have cancer" easily roll off my tongue, but this man's genuine concern for my wellbeing made me feel safe. I told him the truth. He paused and told me that his mother-in-law had just been diagnosed with leukemia and he totally understands the huge swings of ups and downs. He asked if he could set the package down for me inside; it was only about as big as a shoebox.
Now when the UPS man knocks on the door it is no longer a dine-and-dash moment, it is a slight pause after the knock (I know, because I can hear him on the porch), or when our paths cross outside the door when he delivers, he takes a brief moment, his face takes on a sincere look and he asks me, "How are you doing today?"
He would have no way of knowing it, but his taking a moment out of his busy day to engage with me on such a simple level, can make my day. My UPS man is an angel among us.
When Jody and I were most recently in Houston and we were being escorted to my room for my infusion, we passed by the open door of a man laying in bed getting his infusion, his wife in a chair next to him. He yelled out the door to us, "Hey, didn't we see y'all in the waiting room upstairs?" (which would be the lymphoma clinic). We said yes and he asked what I had, I told him Mantle Cell. He said, "Well, you're too young for that! I have Mantle Cell also; I was 47 when I was diagnosed..." And so it began. Jody and I had dozens of questions for both Larry and Marilyn; we asked, they answered, very candidly, and everything with a positive light and a praise to God. Larry is a 6-year diagnose-ee and he is doing remarkably well. Such good spirits and such positive hope and faith in God; both he and Marilyn. They were refreshing, no negativity, lots of laughter, it was awesome every time Larry's infusion machine would beep (meaning he needed to have the dose upped by the nurse), he would push the "mute" button, say, "Dag Nabbit!" and keep on with whatever story he was telling. He made me smile. After a few mute button pushes and "Dag Nabbits," Larry actually had to take his leave and go back to his room; Marilyn stayed with Jody and I answering questions and giving us reassurance and hope. She herself had survived lung cancer just months before Larry's diagnosis.
When the room was ours alone, both Jody and I were left with a warm feeling; we felt like our faith was restored in our Houston decision, and perhaps even a bit in God. Larry was a walking testament that the 5-year average prognosis of this dreaded disease was nothing but a number. He believed completely in God and his faith was unwavering, it resonated and rubbed off!
Larry actually finished his infusion before I did and he and Marilyn made a special effort to come around to our room; it was not the direct path out of the hospital. When they stopped in this second time to say their good-byes, Marilyn handed me a piece of paper, folded neatly with almost an envelope type seal creased at the top. I opened the 'envelope' and inside she had written their contact information and this note: "Please stay in touch. We will keep you in our prayers. God is in control. Have a night on us! Don't worry about it. We are blessed." Inside was a gift of money.
Jody and I were flabbergasted! Had we come across to them as being desperate or needy? We had talked about the financial strain of coming to Houston so often and that we were considering not doing the big chemo there with finances being part of that equation. Jody jumped up and tried to hand the money back to Larry who took a half step back, put up his hand and stopped Jody. Larry simply said, "Please don't take away my Blessing." I cried when my husband leaned forward and gave that big burley man a huge hug. Not that pseudo manly back-slapping type of a hug, but a real, person to person meaningful hug. Jody stepped back, wiped his eye and said the only thing he could, "Thank you." Larry and Marilyn left the room.
Larry and Marilyn are true angels among us.