I received my giving key as a birthday gift from my sister-in-law just last month, February of 2015. My key bore the message "Strength", and from the moment it arrived in the mail, I wore it each and every day. Until one day last week when I received the news that one of my oldest and dearest friends who I have known since I was 9 (I'm now 35) was diagnosed with breast cancer. This friend and I have been through some ups and downs in recent years, but through it all, I've never stopped loving her, and I don't think she has ever stopped loving me either. It's the kind of love, acceptance and forgiveness that you can only really afford to the friends that you have known since childhood. Even though we have drifted in the sense that we are not as engaged in one another's day to day lives any longer, I also know (and hope she does to) that if she ever needed me, I'm here. Always have been, always will be. Needless to say, when I received the shocking news of her diagnosis, I felt a little helpless, as one does in these instances. What could I do? What gestures could I make? And then I glanced down at my wrist and I knew that the reason that this bracelet with this message was gifted to me was for this very purpose...to pass on to my dear friend who needs strength more than ever right now as she prepares for a radical double mastectomy and reconstruction at age 35.
It's funny in that when I first received my key bracelet, I kept trying to almost plan for who I might give it to next, who might need it, when I would give it away, etc. I'm OCD and a planner, it's just how I operate. But that's just not how it works at all. When the time came, last Wednesday night while I stood at the stove making dinner, there was no deliberating, no planning, just a clarity of realization that I can't explain. Though it had only been on my wrist a little over a month, it was time for the key to go to this person in my life who needed it more than me right now.
And so, into a box it went, shipped from NC to IL to be with her. She received it today. In addition to being a reminder to her to have strength during this time, it also felt like a little piece of me that I was able to give to her, like a way for me to be actually with her during this scary and life-changing journey. There could not have been a more perfect way for me to be there for her and to demonstrate my love for and solidarity with her. From my wrist, where it grazed my skin each day, to hers where it will do the same. The prognosis is good, and I am praying hard that it remains so, and that surgery and recovery go off without a hitch. I know that there will come a time where she looks down at her wrist and sees that key glinting there and knows exactly who it needs to go to. Until then, I hope it gives her comfort and reminds her of my love and support of her, and of my continued presence in her life.
April 20, 2015