Today at school in the gardens a few of my students found some monarch butterfly caterpillars. They cried out, “Mira, maestra, mira las orugas monarcas!” and showed me four fat yellow and black striped caterpillars. Always a source of surprise and excitement, witnessing the stages of metamorphosis in nature. A blessing, really. We are so busy we often don’t pay attention to these important things, but children do.
I am seeing life through new eyes, just like Ava. I think we shared an unspoken first moment of “we need to give back” right after the diagnosis. It’s like my friend, Susanna Sharpe mentioned, you just feel this deep need to do more for others after cancer.The other day before I headed to the hospital to be with Ava, I stopped by Half Price Books to grab something to read (not like I have a stack of books already needing to be read!). While I was there, I could hear a woman having a very loud conversation with her companion over the store phone. I looked around. Everyone was just ignoring her, not making any eye contact. It reminded me of the time in San Francisco when we were on a bus and a woman was complaining loudly about feeling ignored and my son Pierce gave her his seat and locked eyes with her, listening to her frustrations and nodding at her. Telling her, “I know”. Just affirming her feelings, which changed her composure. Something we don’t really do much for each other. People just get louder and more frustrated when they feel they are not heard.Something about her compelled me to linger nearby as I made my purchase. She left the store with her two kids and was walking toward the Goodwill. I followed her and saw tears on her cheeks. I called to her, “I only have five dollars to give you. I wish I could give you more and I know you haven’t even asked for it, but I just know you need it.” She looked at me with kind eyes and she cried more. She hugged me. I’m sure we were quite a sight to passersby. This tall six foot woman and petite me telling her, “It’s going to be okay”. We parted our separate ways. Who knows what troubles she was having, who knows what troubles anyone you see is having. We only have each other. We have to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers. I know this now more than I ever knew before.