Just weeks before my mom, Blind Betsy, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2002, a work friend, Tim, went to Hawaii on vacation and brought me back the best vacation present. Of. All. Time.
He brought me a coconut bra.
This had nothing to do with any kind of fixation he had on my breasts (which I assume there was none) and, instead, was namely because, when he asked me what I wanted from Hawaii I said, "You know, I'd really like a coconut bra."
I was tickled pink when he handed it over - but not in a Susan G. Komen Foundation sort of way...then.
Soon after, the call came. Cancer. Breast cancer. Lumpectomy. Radiation. Blessedly, no mastectomy and no chemo. Still...breast cancer. Ouch. Terror.
Even though it was the worst possible time of year for me to take time off from my job, my boss - herself a breast cancer survivor - said, "Go."
And I did. For a week. About 3 weeks into the 10-week course of radiation.
Prior to my stay with my mom, I talked to her on the phone one night and asked her, "How are you doing?"
The one thing I remember her saying was, "You know, I'm doing OK but I feel really really protective of myself...of my breasts. I don't want anyone to touch me and all anyone wants to do is give me a hug. I wish I had a set of armor so no one could touch me."
I had no armor. I couldn't afford any armor. But I did have something that might suffice as armor for a woman I'd give anything to help...
A coconut bra.
So...armed with a sense of humor, a coconut bra, and fear of my mother's mortality, I arrived at her doorstep and presented her with the "authentic" Hawaiian vacation gift. Hell, it's not like it would have fit me anyway.
Long and loud.
It was the best medicine I could have presented her.
In my defense, in her defense, this is the same woman who, when nearly killed when she was side-swiped by a dump truck in 1985, thought it hysterical when a dear friend had flowers delivered to her...flowers arranged in a Tonka Toy dump truck.
We are sick, sick people, y'all.
The gift of a useless coconut bra and an invaluable laugh were enough to make her feel good - if only for a moment. It helped her to laugh when she didn't know what she needed. It helped me to hear her laugh when I didn't know how to help. It was only for a moment but it was something in a sea of nothing good.
I tell you this because...
A dear friend of ours - my mom's and mine - is in the hospital currently. She has been there for more than a week. It's cancer. It's scary.
I talked to my mom about it tonight. She's beside herself in wanting to help and not knowing just how she can. When she said she didn't know what to do, I didn't know what to tell her.
After we hung up, I remembered the coconut bra.
And so I say...
Mommy? Keep an eye out for your opportunity. It may not be a coconut bra. It may not be a laugh. But you won't have to physically see the opportunity to know it when it presents itself. You only have to keep yourself open to however the opportunity manifests itself. Remember. You're open to possibility (isn't that what you said to me just tonight?). She (they) aren't going to know to ask for it but they will be grateful when you trip over it and then offer it - no matter what it is - in all its glory.
The littlest things mean a lot. Remember.
Much love, peace, health and happiness to you all.
But for the grace of...go I.