Everybody should have the privilege of experiencing what their own funeral might look like before they die.
I have cried daily since my diagnosis, but it is rarely--if ever--about cancer. It is typically about the beautiful people who keep showing up to hold me up, cheer me on, and encourage me. They've delivered meals and flowers; played chauffeur for my appointments; run errands when I could not; gifted me Reiki and massage sessions; sent me cards, packages, daily texts, and homemade gifts and hats; have come when I've reached out, no questions asked; and have donated money to my Gofundme campaign. Many, many people have me on their prayer lists, and offers of encouragement and love are commonplace.
I have been cracked wide open by the goodness of my life and the blessings from the people in it.
Even before I had the chance to digest the news of my diagnosis, one of my colleagues visited a website while she was at work during the night shift and ordered 300 lime green bracelets with an inscription that read: "Team Katie, Stay Strong, Never Give Up." Lime green, like the pink breast cancer paraphernalia, is the color for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She began handing them out to our co-workers just as I was heading into my biopsy surgery. When I returned to work a few days later, everyone was already wearing them.
I teared up when I saw a sea of green on everyone's wrist.
On the day of my biopsy, the Operating Room Nurse came to get me, but before she wheeled me down the long corridor to the OR, she took my hand and looked into my eyes and said: "This is going to suck for a while, but you will be okay." Then she turned on her heels and gave my bed a push toward where my surgeon stood.
I choked back tears.
Two weeks later, a different OR nurse came to get me for the surgery to put in a port, and on the way, we passed Sarah, my former OR nurse. She remembered me and stopped my gurney. Again, she looked into my eyes while she grabbed my hand, but this time she said nothing. She didn't have to. The love and compassion emanating from her expression was clear.
I took a deep breath to hold back the lump in my throat as I headed into surgery for the second time in 2 weeks.
Despite working the night shift, my colleague drove me to my first chemotherapy treatment and stayed a few hours. Another friend who is also a cancer survivor made sure that I was not alone during that day. She met me just minutes after I sat down in my recliner, and stayed the entire 11-hour day. Just before lunch, another cancer survivor visited with tea and cookies, and my kids arrived moments later.
I was grateful to be surrounded by people who loved me for the entire day. I was not alone in this.
When a good friend of mine first heard of my diagnosis, she immediately said, "I will shave my head with you." Weeks later when my hair began falling out, she was true to her word. She hosted a Hat and Hair-shaving party last weekend and she was the first to shave her head because I was too chicken to. One-by-one, others who attended the party sat down on the stool to get their hair shaved, too. After two hours, 13 people had joined me in solidarity.
I couldn't hold back the tears. I let them flow freely while I looked around my party in awe.
I am cracked wide open everyday by people selflessly showing up for me. I cannot believe my beautiful life, and the even more beautiful people in it. I cry hearing emotional songs; I weep when the sun shines; I cannot hold back sobs when I think about my children and grand-children.
Whenever I share just how stunned I feel by the continuous outpouring of love and support, I've been told by a few:
"You're just receiving what you've been giving out for so long. It's all coming back to you now."
Of course, this only makes me cry harder.
But it has been very obvious to me that angels dressed in clothes have descended into my life to do God's work.