After 17 years of our relationship, my husband decided he had had enough. I have suffered from depression for over 20 years and he had gotten tired of it, or so he said. Even though our marriage had ups and downs, it came as a complete surprise to me. He was highly critical of me, even though I had just as many grounds for frustration. It even came to light that he had been “friendly” with another woman. I was distraught. I had been with him my entire adult life, and the prospect of starting over was daunting, to say the least.
My younger sister came down from NY to stay with me, to cat sit while I traveled for business and help me reorganize my home after he had left. One night, lying in bed with me, she told me about the Giving Keys, and handed me a “Strength” key. I was moved by her support, and the key reminded me of the strength I had within, and the strength I got from my loved ones, my friends, and my Creator.
For months, I wore the key around my neck. One of my girlfriends laughed in her inimitable sarcastic way, asking if I was a latchkey kid (I was), and I explained the meaning of the key. One night at a party, drunk and feeling loved, I almost gave it to a stranger who was also going through a surprising divorce. My girlfriends got it back, to my relief. I was torn, but realized he was not the right recipient.
Months later, buoyed by the strength I had found after my own divorce, I returned from a dream trip to Japan (with my kid sister) to discover a friend who I love very dearly was in distress. This was the same friend who had jokingly called me a latchkey kid. Her mother had very suddenly been diagnosed with stage 4, metastasized bone cancer. Her prognosis is only 4%.
This girlfriend of mine was a tower of strength during my divorce, something that came as a surprise because we hadn't been friends all that long when it happened. When I heard that her mother was terminal, and my usually stalwart friend was a wreck. I immediately thought of my "Strength" key. I saw her again after my trip and gave her a long hug, unable to say much but “whatever you need…”
The next day, I took my "Strength" key and tucked it into a card, where I told her that strength does not come from a key or an amulet, but from those who love us. Although the prognosis is bleak, miracles happen, and I pray that her family will witness one.
I left the card on her desk at work, and after a chat, walked away. For hours I heard nothing. Then late that night, I received a long and heartfelt text message from her. She said she almost didn’t accept the key, knowing what it meant to me, but then realized that would defeat the purpose of the gift. She thanked me from the bottom of her heart, and added that she might “pay it forward” soon because she knew someone who needed strength even more than she does.
I gave my key with a prayer for strength for my friend, and a miracle for her mom. I ask that anyone who reads this will pray (in whatever way you believe) for Jenny Palma as well.