That’s exactly how many hours I spent from beginning to end Friday receiving one of the best Christmas presents a girl could have. That’s also the age I was the last time I spent more than a few moments with Lenore.
Lenore is a former college teammate of mine. She is also the mommy of three of the cutest little boys I have ever seen with the cutest names ever: Hunter, Ryder and River. And yes, they are all that cool! I got a chance to snuggle baby River and point out “doors” and “MORE DOORS!” with Ryder on Friday. I also got to decorate the halls of Doernbacher’s Children’s Hospital with Lenore and lots of her friends in support of the Healing Hunter Foundation. We put garland and tinsel around every banister, on top of every room window, hung ornament clusters on every hand sanitizer bottle, wrapped ribbon around posts to make them look like candy canes, posted glossy images of Grinchy characters on the walls of every hall, play room and lobby, strung lights high and low, dangled fluffy white tissue paper pom poms and metallic snowflakes at various heights from each and every window frame, decorated several large Christmas trees and popped up even more metallic ones. There were no nooks and no crannies left untrimmed. All in an effort to make the walls of a hospital where pediatric cancer patients are being treated with various forms of the disease appear a little more bright, a little more cheery, a little less like their reality. All in an effort to honor a very special, very cool little boy named Hunter who lost his battle to the disease over two years ago.
Lenore and her husband Zen have gone through hell and back (see their blog www.healinghunter.blogspot.com) and have chronicled much of their story on their blog. What struck me then and continues to strike me today is how Lenore and her husband have turned their pain into an amazing tribute to their little boy. Grief has so many different faces and I saw many of those faces on Friday. But behind that grief is so much love and behind that love is the still flickering light of hope. That kind of love gets expressed in so many different ways and what I learned on Friday is that no matter what it looks like, there is no wrong way to express loss. We all do it differently and at different paces. I think if there was one thing I took away from this day it would be that people are truly amazing when they open their hearts and love. Despite the haunting truth of these halls, everyone involved in Lenore’s effort put themselves out there to be vulnerable, to be real, to be raw enough to just love. As a culture, Americans are incredibly guarded. We are obsessed with ourselves and obsessed with being safe. We think if we don’t let anyone in that we cannot be hurt. Yesterday, I saw people opening themselves up to potential hurt, potential pain, potential tears.
But, buried in the red, green and silver tinsel, hanging from fishing wire in the snowflakes, nestled into tree branches and dripping from each and every person I met the presence of love was overwhelming. By the end of the night, when it was time for me to go home, I felt incredible gratitude and insatiable joy for the chance I was given to participate in something so sweet and so real.
*I met some super great ladies with amazing organizations that serve lots of families who are affected by cancer. The listed non-profit’s are located in Portland, OR. If you are in that area, check these out. If you are not, get connected with local organizations and see how you can help.
www.tuckerstoybox.org/ – a foundation that sends birthday wishes to childhood cancer patients all over the country. Help spread the word about Tucker’s Toy Box!
www.healinghunter.blogspot.com – Healing Hunter Foundation and Lightning Cupcakes exist to fight childhood cancer one smile at a time. See how you can be a part of many of the awesome events they put together.
www.psgirlfriends.org – a non-profit that delivers comforting gift baskets to women and their families who are affected by cancer.
Categories: All The Rest