Recently, I was clearing out a storage facility I had used for years. Inside, it was wall to wall and floor to ceiling -- boxes! Everywhere you looked, boxes were stacked upon boxes and in many cases, the cardboard boxes were “broken” from the heavy weight of another box upon them plus years of just sitting in one spot. Fortunately, my son Brian really helped clear things out and by the end of January, I was “shed” free.
While going through the “mess” inside the storage shed I was sorting a box of items when I came across a collection of cards. When I was hospitalized back in 2002 (during my lung surgery) I received cards from family, friends and coworkers. I had quite a collection and quite honestly, had forgotten that many of these cards ended up in a box. I had been storing these cards for years.
When I began to realize what I had before me, I found myself looking closely at one of the cards. It was a lovely design -- mostly pastels with the words “The Oak Tree” as the title on the front of the card. This is what it said:
“A mighty wind blew night and day,
It stole the oak tree’s leaves away,
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the oak was tired and stark.
But still the oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
“How can you still be standing, Oak?”
The oak tree said, “I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs, and make me sway,
But I have roots stretched in the earth,
Growing stronger since my birth,
You’ll never touch them, for you see,
They are the deepest part of me.
Until today, I wasn't’ sure
Of just how much I could endure.
But now I’ve found, with thanks to you,
I’m stronger than I ever knew.”
Then, following this beautiful verse, the card read:
I know you can get through this...
You’re good, and you’re strong,
and you have a lot of people
around you who care..
people like me.
As I felt tears welling up within my eyes, I read the name written below the verse. It was signed ... Your friend Harold
Wow! I have not spoken to Harold in years. There was a time when I saw him practically everyday. We were both cast members at the Disney Reservation Center and we worked together in Guest Services. Harold and I (along with the rest of the gang) shared many, many laughs. And, over the years we worked together, we also shared our sorrows, our tears and our fears. He had been dealing with an issue close to home at the time I was hospitalized. His Mom was fighting her own cancer battle. Knowing this, I was not at all upset that he had not come to visit me or contacted me sooner. When I received his card, I knew he was thinking of me.
And, as I read the card twice over while standing inside the shed, I could feel some tears forming -- but I also knew I was smiling. I recalled a time when I had “good friends -- coworkers with whom I shared so much of my life” and now, many of them no longer really a part of my life and yet, I felt close to them. Harold’s words spoke to me: “Marilyn... your friends & family can help you, but you must continue to fight & believe you can beat cancer.”
The card was signed.. “Take care & know I’m here & still care.” Harold .... I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes and saw an image of my friend -- I saw a room full of colleagues I had not seen in years ... I felt a strength that came from within. That card brought back so many memories. The best memory of all -- knowing I had people out there who cared about me and that, the words they shared with me many years ago, still continued to be heard and understood. It was “me” who needed to keep fighting. Harold was right -- I had to be the one to “beat” cancer. I was the one who needed to be strong.
It was a true “Hallmark” moment.