I stood there with wide eyes, tapping my fingers together like a Disney villain, bubbling with anticipation as I looked through the glass at the perfect drops of heaven that flirted back at me. Ah, the chocolate counter. Chocolate was one of the first things my taste-buds rejected over seven months ago, but ability to fully appreciate the glorious taste of chocolate has returned! And although I am well aware that sugar is something I need to ‘break up with’ to help keep cancer away, this day was not the day to end my love affair. This was the day I finished radiation and I was celebrating completing 21 days in a row at the hospital along with wrapping up chemo, two surgerys, and all the surprises in between. No, this was not a day to walk past Purdy’s.
The lovely lady behind the counter asked me how she could help, and I tossed my hands in the air exclaiming that I was celebrating finishing both chemo and radiation and chocolate is how I needed to do it. She wholeheartedly agreed and quickly became my eager drug dealer. As I finished picking my poison, a happy head popped out from the backroom, apparently the assistant manager heard our entire conversation and told me that the chocolate was on the house. For me, it was instant tears. I was overwhelmed by their generosity of spirit and ability to connect with someone they had only just met.
As I walked away from the store all I could think was... now this is love. I sat down partly because my heart med's had my head spinning and partly because I was seeing flash after flash of all the love that has been poured out to me during this insane time. Love has been shown to me in so many fantastic ways:
- the friend who drove an hour just to see me ring the radiation bell.
- friends mailing me shoes.
- co-workers standing up for me at work.
- my mom driving me to the hospital each day to avoid outrageous parking fees.
- friends who live at distance going out of their way to make me feel like they live next door.
- a brother who went late to work in order to be at the hospital with me.
- another brother who was there for my surgery in order to be my comic relief.
- a friend who sends the perfectly inappropriate cards on a regular basis.
- countless messages of joy, encouragement and strength.
- friends showing up, ingredients in hand, excited to teach me how to make healing smoothies.
- being made French Toast with the 'good' maple syrup.
- homemade food delivered with a smiles.
- my nieces & nephew who just see their crazy Aunt, and not cancer.
- the Super of the building who hand delivers my mail when I'm down for the count.
- the random letters and gifts left at my door from people in my building.
- friends sleeping over so they can keep an eye on me.
- a dance community that continue to remind me they have my back.
- the neighbour who tells me he doesn’t leave the pool until I do to make sure I am safe.
- friends who take me to the Botanical Gardens and allow me to be the 90 year I am.
The list continues with one generous thought and kind deed after another. I am swept away and deeply touched by the outpouring of kindness I have received since that dreadful call on January 4th. Cancer made a crucial mistake, in it’s desire to pull me down, it ended up teaching me what true love is.
To me, love,
- appears in the form I need it to when I need it to.
- comes from the most unlikely of places.
- is always there, I just need to receive it.
- is being vulnerable with people.
- is a selfless action.
- is choosing to always respond with kindness no matter what the situation.
With each day, love continues to show me it's power. I've realized it isn't something I need to search for, it doesn't involve limits, and it can't be measured. No act of love is more powerful than another, and the best part is, love is always available to me.
There is great truth in Hugh Grant's opening monologue from Love Actually (best movie ever!),
If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling
you’ll find that love actually is all around.
I have said from the beginning that I am loving cancer out of me, but I never expected that in return cancer would illuminate what love is for me.