A Gift From Out Of Left Field
The expression “Out of left field” supposedly comes from my home town of Chicago. One theory is that when the Chicago Cubs moved to what is now Wrigley Field in 1915, The University Of Illinois College Of Medicine built its Neuropsychiatric Institute building in what had been left field. In other words, left field became where they teach all about crazy – I’m sure I’m in their textbook somewhere. Another is derived directly from the experience of players. A runner attempting to score from third base will have his back to left field, thus a throw to the plate “out of left field” can arrive seemingly out of nowhere as a surprise to the runner.
Anything coming from “Out of left field” is unexpected and almost always unpleasant… like cancer. Nobody gets up in the morning and plans to have cancer that day nor does anyone pencil it into their calendar for the Tuesday after next. It slams into you from way out of left field with the speed and hideous destructive power of a tornado. The treatments for cancer come from that same left field. I was all of a sudden faced with a myriad of new words, acronyms, tests, gigantic pieces of equipment, sharp needles, doctors, and… options. Options are decisions you must make that will affect your whole life – or lack thereof. The clock is ticking madly away and you have to decide which painful option to go with… but no pressure. You can’t not make a decision, because not deciding is also a decision and it is not recommended, as you‘ll most likely die… sooner rather than later.
It’s kind of ironic that in my case, cancer didn’t hurt at all until they started hunting it down and killing it. I’m all for that mind you, especially the killing it part, but the process always seems to involve some sort of discomfort.
Discomfort, if you didn’t know, is the medical term for pain. “Pinch a little” means “nasty burning pain”. “This will only take a minute” means that “it’s going to hurt quite a bit, but hopefully for a short period of time”. “I’m so sorry, but we have to do this” translates to “This could quite possibly feel worse than anything you’ve ever felt in your whole life including an attack by killer bees, being run over by a bus, or arm wrestling Godzilla.” I’m sure I could come up with some more of these translations – and that you have your own – but let’s go on to something better.
I received a gift from out of left field. A beautiful gift from out of left field. Well, actually it came from a person, not a field, left or otherwise. And it came in the mailbox that usually contains only junk mail, bills, and notices of more medical appointments. As soon as I see one of those appointment cards, my stomach sinks to my feet as I wonder what further torture that killing this rat-bastard-cancer will require. Anyway, the point is that something wonderful came unexpectedly from someone I never even met. It came just when I needed a reminder that not all surprises are bad and that the unexpected can be wonderful. A woman who reads my blog came across something that made her think of me. That fact alone makes me happy. That my scribbles are read by somebody other than my mother still thrills me. Having what I write impact someone enough so they think of me afterwards and want to do something nice for me, blows my mind. She contacted me through Facebook and explained that she would like to have a mailing address to send something to me. She told me that it was nothing really, just a token, but that she thought of me when she saw it and so she bought it. For me. I gave her the address of course and promptly filed the conversation away in one of the filing cabinets in my head labeled “maybe-maybe not”.
It came in the teeniest, most adorable little package I have ever seen, all wrapped in brown paper. It barely had enough room on it for stamps. Just the package all by itself made me smile, it was that cute. Then I opened it. If this were a TV show, now is when it would be continued until next week or at the very least, go to commercial. This is not a TV show though and I am not all that fond of commercials so…
How lovely is this?!!! I tried to photograph it against black, but I don’t know how to turn off the flash and you couldn’t see it at all because all the dainty sparkles reflected so much it became a big white blur. Beige countertop will have to do as a backdrop as the flash wasn’t an issue with it. The closeup shot lets you see how truly delicate and intricate my new bracelet is.
As beautiful as this piece of jewelry is, what is more beautiful to me is the sentiment behind it. In these days of texts, instant messages, and instant gratification for that matter, that someone took the time to send this to me means so very much on every level. I’m sure Karen (she said I could use her name if I wanted) had no idea of how validating her gift to me would be. I started writing this to help anybody else that I could – patients, families, doctors, nurses, technicians, and especially those wondering if any of this applies to them. It really-truly-honestly didn’t occur to me that I would be helping myself or that I would become a writer looking for validation. This journey certainly has bumps and jolts and falling-off-cliff moments, but like the rest of life, I have found that there is balance in this too. To balance the fear and pain and uncertainty, there are moments of such heart-aching love and beauty and laughter and grace… and a bracelet from someone I never met, out of left field.