I’m a big fan of charitable causes. And I generally won’t turn anyone down if they are soliciting for something I believe in. I particularly like opportunities to contribute to something in a direct, tangible fashion. For example, my daughter’s Girl Scout troop did a project last year where they made fleece blankets for babies to use in a local NICU. It was a great project and a great opportunity to feel like you can “see” exactly where your help will go.
More often, though, my opportunities for giving are monetary in nature, and I don’t always have that tangible connection to the help that it provides. While I still am always up for giving ‘til it hurts, many times I don’t feel that connected to the ultimate recipients.
So, I was grateful yesterday to be on the receiving end of some charitable Angels, who not only provided a dose of care and comfort to someone I love at a difficult time, but also provided a wonderful reminder to me that the giving that I do – that all of us do –does end up tangibly benefiting actual people, probably when they most need it, even though we may never meet them.
My mom underwent a lumpectomy yesterday. Stage 1 breast cancer, diagnosed only a few weeks ago. The surgery was successful. (Actually, the surgery itself was difficult and she suffered major complications afterward and I think I have aged a decade since yesterday morning, but from a cancer standpoint, the surgery went well. And she is stable and doing better now). They removed a tumor and some lymph nodes. All of the lymph nodes that they removed were clear, so the tumor was isolated and had not spread. Phew. A little radiation and she should be in the clear. Exhale.
When my mom was first diagnosed and went in to meet with the breast surgeon, she met a woman named Joan, who works in his office as a care coordinator. Joan was a lovely person, but after my mom’s surgery was scheduled, she did not expect to see Joan again until her post-surgery check-up.
Lo and behold, who was waiting for my mom when she was wheeled in for her pre-op procedures yesterday? Joan. A resident Angel. She came to see my mom to wish her well on her surgery and to give her a care package. The care package was put together by volunteers and included a beautifully knit shawl from another Angel named Kirsten, tagged with a lovely note. The package also included a meditation CD, some inspirational writings and all sorts of personal care goodies – chapstick, moisturizers, wet wipes, bandaids, etc. (all purchased with monetary contributions or donated), to help make her stay a little more comfortable. It was a beautiful care package, a beautiful gesture, and a real pick-me-up on an otherwise difficult day.
I can’t wait to thank Joan in person. I wish I could find “Kirsten” and let her know how much her shawl was appreciated. I think of her knitting it and wondering who might receive it. I’d love to let her know that even though the recipient may have been nameless and faceless while she was knitting the shawl, she is in fact a real, wonderful, deeply loved person, and she is so appreciative of Kirsten’s gift.
I am going to keep this experience in the forefront of my mind the next time I am asked to contribute to a cause. I may never be present to see my contributions come to fruition, but if I choose my causes carefully, they will – and when they do, they will make a positive difference in someone’s life just when they need it the most.