With the past week being what it was, and bringing what it brought, thoughts of comfort are in the front of my mind lately. Searching for, finding, and giving comfort, both physically and mentally has become a state pastime. It is a two way street, Comfort. It feels as good to give, some need to give just as heavily as some need to receive it. In all forms, and definitions.
Kikimama got sick last year. I felt the lump and mostly it was what I thought of a scar tissue that had built up around her hysterectomy scar. Then it began to really grow. It bothered her to the fact that she would lick it and worry it. We went to the Dr, finally, and it was a pretty dramatic thing. This was a rapid growing cancer. But we could take it out. It would be fine. So that’s what we did.
Less than a full year later, it was back. It was back and it was fastly growing and showing up in places it had never been before. She had started peeing all over the house. Sometimes she would make it to the box, sometimes just outside, sometimes not even close. There was a really strange transition happening between the three cats in this home. She was sleeping more and more and in my heart, I knew something was bad and we need to see the Dr. That appointment left me hopeless. It was the cancer. It was so fiercely invasive that we probably had about 8 weeks left. There would come a time and I would know it.
So we came back home. I was spending more and more time in Norman, home to love on her, give her fresh food and water, pet her while she slept the days away. We lasted till the week after LTYM:OKC. The day of my final final at school, I took the test then went home to get the babe.
In the vet’s office, the staff were quiet, they offered up comfort, alongside precise instruction as to what would happen. Kleenex and procedure. It was so apparent that when I laid Kiki on the table that she was so done. She was so so so done. There wasn’t a more clear sign from her to I that this was the best thing.
I cried. I wept. I drove straight to Norman.
I stopped off at a Feed & Seed that had some plants and did some self soothing. I got home and there he was sitting on the front steps waiting on me. He had taken off work early and had offered to actually go with me, as had many, but it was my deal and I wanted to go home. And there he was. We planted my plants, we walked in the misty rain along our street and talked of future plans for our house, we walked to campus corner for some delicious comfort food that came in the form of pasta and sauce. We came home, and held onto each other throughout the night. It was done. But it was better.
This past week involved trying to track down each and every girl and troop member and volunteer to see if a) they were alive and b) if we could help in any way. We assembled a hodge – podge attempt at a list that becomes more refined with each new day. We are sending girls to camp. We are providing food for a funeral. We assembled about 30 troops and volunteers and about 4 staff who gave their Sunday of Memorial Weekend to attend the community prayer service and hand out programs, hand out backpacks, hand out stuffed animals to the children attending. The Girl Scouts offering comfort, handling themselves with grace and dignity in all of the situations that happen when many are producing an event, and not doing it so well. I was so so proud of them.
As we were leaving, we all saw Jenny the Therapy Dog laying in the floor outside the sanctuary offering up some doggie love. I immediately got down on the floor and soaked up some love. She was a leaner. Jenny the Therapy Dog knows the phrase Lean IN and help your fellow sisters. She leaned me right out of my shoe. Delightful.
The bus ride from the church to the staging center that was an evaucated mall just a few minutes north, was given to us by school bus drivers from all over the state. This couple drove up from a little town called Cache. It’s several hours southwest of where we were. They did that to offer what they could, drove people to get some comfort at this prayer service. It was a long day, and there they were, taking us back to our cars.
As I walked off the bus, fresh red roses that were leftover from the ceremony in my one hand, t-shirts that were in the other along with my purse I looked up and there stood Mark. Not waiting in the car listening to the radio. Not in the car with it running at the nearest exit. There he stood. Outside of the car. At the closest edge of the place not marked by the National Guard. He picked the things out of my hand, got me into the car and took me home.
“you all looked like a bunch of exhausted refugees, getting off of that bus.”
I had cried so long, and hadn’t eaten since 10am (it was after 8pm) so my headache was tremendous. He drove me home so I could change, then we went for dinner. Yeah it was late. We didn’t care. Home. Bed. Safe. Comfort.
During these past few months, telling a story has become a theme in my life. With LTYM:OKC and the ripples that are still coming out of that experience, I think we all got it. Got IT. Telling our story is a vital and NECESSARY experience. It is needed. These stories are valid. And by telling them, we extend a branch of acceptance where we didn’t know one was needed, we offer a blanket of comfort to someone we’ve never met. By telling our stories, they become valid and warranted and perhaps open a gateway into healing.
Sunday afternoon, there were stories. We were overstaffed, and that meant many moments standing and say Hi, and Welcome. Many immediately launched into their story.
“I worked at Plaza Towers. My daughter taught at Plaza Towers. I represent both of us today.”
“I was driving a school bus and they said you have to turn around and take cover”
“I was just inside that 7-11”
“We drove two days from Sandy Hook and are here with two trucks full of supplies.”
Comfort comes in every size, in every flavor. The need to comfort, to give someone in crisis a little hope has seized our state. We received a letter from Girl Scout troops in Abu Dabi telling us to expect letters and cards from them soon. It is a humbling experience to see it happen en masse.
It is even more humbling with you see the smallest of gestures, leaving work early or standing on the corner waiting for a bus to unload.
I hope that this week you have an opportunity to offer comfort. And if your heart is hurting, in any way, I pray that you are on the other end of something like this. Some hug, or some laughter, or some cheese or a walk in the rain.