You Surprised Me!


As our car rounded the corner, a contour of cars filled the sides of the street like rocks lining a stream – some even triple parked at the base of the cul-de-sac. The sounds of the crowded house greeted us in the driveway and intensified as we walked closer to open front door that welcomed us in. Wow! What a crowd, for a random party in January. “Bring your unwanted Christmas gifts and we’ll have a White Elephant Gift Exchange!” The invitation had stated. My husband and I joked about how people must have received a lot of unwanted gifts as we dove into the sea of guests.

Although I hardly knew you and had no idea you would be there, my eye found you within the first minute of our arrival. I had heard your story. Surrounded by women, you looked like any other guest – enjoying the camaraderie, part of the cacophony. My heart was happy to see you out and socializing. Knowing you had moved to the area within the last year, I didn’t know how connected you were. Of course a diagnosis like cancer will get you “connected” pretty quickly – as it brings out the best in those around us.

What struck me was how perfectly normal you looked. Just like anyone else. And I wondered how you could look so carefree and happy when you had received such grave news. Really. How? As I scanned the room, glancing at the nodding heads, the eating, the smiles, seeing the laughs and conversation, I wondered what everyone else’s story was. What “situation” were they putting aside for the night – to enjoy a time away filled with fun and friends? A time to forget. If just for an evening. Knowing what you were going through, made me wonder about the other guests. Perhaps they didn’t have cancer, but my bet is they each had something.

Anyway, it was great to see you! Out and about with friends and fun! We had a few minutes to visit and share, getting to know each other a bit. At the end of the night you reminded me of a very familiar feeling when you smiled at me and said, “It was so nice just to forget about it for a few hours and have fun!” It was a fun evening! More of those will come. In time. Your journey is just starting; from the looks of it, you will be just fine. God has surrounded you with a great group of people and you have an amazing attitude. I’m looking forward to sharing my “lessons learned” with you and walk you through these next chapters. And I can tell, our hearts are already knit together. Silver linings…. God is cool isn’t He?!

As the parking in the street thinned out, and the couples left one by one, I couldn’t help but wonder what each of the guests was returning home to. May I be sensitive to not only those who’s struggle I know, but to each and every one I encounter – knowing that a fun night of friends and fellowship is a great dose of medicine! A wonderful time to put our cares on hold…

(Thank you to our hosts who gave each of us a precious gift so much better than the university scarf and muscle t-shirt we won!)


2 thoughts on “You Surprised Me!

  1. Each semester, as I enter my first day of mental health nursing classroom, I ask the students, “Which area of nursing do you want to work in upon graduation?”; student preferences usually range between pediatrics, obstetrics, or ER/ICU. Seldom, a student will want to work in mental health. I open up the conversation by stating, “Everyone has a story. Some of you may work in orthopedics, emergency medicine, etc. and your focus will be on what brought them to the hospital; a broken leg, heart attack, etc. but keep in mind, outside of their hospital bed, there is an entire life. Maybe, the crabby “hip fracture” patient is a Vietnam veteran who has witnessed his friends die along with the other atrocities of war. Possibly, the “broken arm” is a single mother with an Autistic child and no support system. Or in my friends case, she has a son who has been incarcerated for the past 9 years. In our busy worlds, it’s easy to hurry past each other and not take a look at each other aside from face value. Maybe today, we can pause for a moment, tune into each other, and listen.

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