December_pictures_007_2I was coming here tonight to tell you about my bad day. The short version is simply:

  • I went out shopping at 6 AM in the 19 degree snow and ice because the packages I ordered for St. Nicholas Day didn't arrive. I couldn't shop yesterday because of that flat tire.
  • December_pictures_002 I've been hurt by several people I thought were friends and it about crushed me early, early this morning.
  • The van is still in the driveway with a flat tire and the AAA guy (who arrived around 5 today) assures me that if I call tomorrow morning before 7:00 he'll come fix it. Tomorrow.
  • December_pictures_003 Patrick made the state ODP team (good news except that they practice in Richmond every weekend and the people we usually carpool with didn't make the team--have I mentioned how much I dislike driving? I dislike it even more when it's two hours away and likely to be cold).

  • The trash men took my perfectly good stroller and tossed it into the back of the truck and then crushed it. When I ran outside waving and screaming, they stopped. And stared. When I asked them to pull it out so that I could at least retrieve the sweaters and the tool kit in the basket, they refused.December_pictures_005 And so my dear friends, I called Christian and Patrick  and the three of us reached way in and pulled that stroller, covered in muck, out of the trash truck. It wasn't pretty. And then I had a very pleasant talk with Customer Service.
  • December_pictures_004 By this time, it was nearly noon. I locked myself in  my room and called a friend and totally fell apart. I wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there. She suggested gingerbread houses, St. Nicholas crafts, and Dawn's gingerbread cake. And  she came over and made it all happen.

Before I began to blog it all, I stopped by to visit Heather and read this poem.

And I was transported back seventeen years to a young mother who was bald. Her throat was so burned by radiation that she couldn't even swallow water. Her young husband was tired and worn and worried and her toddler knew all too well the waiting area at the hospital. But it would soon be Christmas and with Christmas would come the end of this treatment. With Christmas would come hope that they could begin life again with a rare and precious perspective. They would know that even the bad days are golden gifts of precious time. They would know that delayed parcels, flat tires, twisted, filthy strollers, and even shattered friendships cannot rob us of the awareness that time is a treasure and life is very, very good.  December_pictures_006 They would know that in the blink of an X-ray, a phone call from a doctor can shatter peace  and threaten life as we know it. They would promise never, ever to lose sight of the gift of joy. And time. And life itself.That young mother was me and my life is forever imprinted with gift of cancer.
It is no coincidence that it was Heather who shared the words of another young cancer patient. Nor is it a coincidence that it was the mother of a cancer survivor who filled the afternoon with fun and the house with the smell of chocolate gingerbread. Sometimes, we live through experiences that teach us invaluable lessons. While we never, ever want to learn those lessons that way again, we can appreciate the treasure of the lesson and we can honor its message.Even--especially--on the bad days.

Gratitude check:
December_pictures_001 Tonight, dear Lord, as I sink into the comfort of the evening, I thank you especially for (14) a brand new box of Saintly Soaps, herbal tea, and a very hot bath. (15)I thank you for children who delight in the feast of their patron, despite the chaos and the disappointment of the grownup world. (16)I thank you for the lessons of cancer and the gift of perspective and (17) for friends who understand perfectly both the gift and the perspective. (18) And I thank you for tomorrow and the hope and promise of a new day, filled with You.