I had a nice holiday. Kids were home. We went to parties. I have a nice place to work, and I enjoyed the Christmas rush. It is nice to have a break from school. But there has been the other stuff. I have two friends who have been diagnosed with cancer, and I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that every time cancer strikes close by, I find myself flinching, a shiver of fear running up my spine. One is far enough away that I can only be helpful by phone, but the other is a friend, a close one. Last month, she was working. She was getting ready for the holidays, just like me, and then, just that quick, she had cancer. Biopsy before Christmas. Tumor removed after Christmas, back home New Year's Eve.
I haven't seen her, and it's been bothering me. She was so very helpful to me when I was sick. I've got a cold though that has settled into my chest, and the last thing that she needs is a sick person visiting her, and so I haven't. I did call Karen, and she got a large basket to set up at the back of the church, so that we can all drop cards in, and small gifts.
So today I went shopping with my chest cold. I looked for things that reminded me of my friend. I got a pot of paperwhites which had been forced and were ready to bloom. My friend likes flowers, and the thing is, after these plants bloom and wither in their pot, she can take the pot outside and plant the bulbs in her garden. The idea of her back outside digging in the dirt was such a hopeful image that I couldn't NOT buy the flowers, and so I did. I also found a bluebird, a resin bluebird, the symbol of happiness, and my friend is a vivacious and happy woman, quick to laugh, and always up to her armpits in her grandchildren. That bluebird seemed appropriate. I bought her a lilac candle. Lilacs are the symbol of spring, of renewal, of rebirth. The idea that her brain could rewire itself, growing around the damage, past the dark season, that made me feel hopeful too. I bought lip balm, remembering how dry my lips had been during chemo. Then I got the idea to buy her a packet of Milano cookies too. They are kind of pricey, but the thing is that sometimes, just sometimes, a person needs a treat. So I headed to the cookie section.
I stood there, looking at cookies, holding my small armload of things, and thinking of my friend and I saw the cookies and reached up for them when I saw this: Jeanie talked about Tim Tam biscuits a while back. I'd never heard of them before, but she got a lot of comments simply by mentioning Tim Tam. Those things have quite a following there. I laughed when I saw the package. "Australia's favorite cookie" it read. Jeanie had explained to me that they were not a cookie, they were a biccie. All of her commenters raved about Tim Tams. About the fact that the best way to eat them was to nibble off both ends, and to suck a warm drink through the middle until the biscuit dissolved into gooey deliciousness.
I stood in the middle of a crowded supermarket with the armload of gifts for my good friend, and I bought Milano cookies for her. I also bought cookies for me. Jeanie had complained that they were $1.99. Mine were $3.29 for those eleven cookies. But I came home, and I looked at the presents for my friend. I looked at them and prayed a little prayer that those things generated the same sort of joy inside of my friend as they had generated as I picked the things out. While I was thinking of my friend, I had a cup of coffee, and I nibbled off the ends of a Tim Tam, and I sucked warm coffee through the middle until the cookie disolved into gooey deliciousness.
Tim Tam therapy. I watched the sky begin to darken, and I ate my cookie, and I thought of my friends, and I smiled.