Monday, December 4, 2017

34 Acts of Kindness

Hey, I’m still here. I know it’s been awhile, and I’m flattered that some of you have actually asked about me and whether I’d ever write another blog post. (It wasn’t said quite like that, but I got the message.) I really am flattered. I keep saying I have a lot of posts percolating (because I really do), and I’ve thought about just starting to write to see where it goes, but something has kept me from it, and I couldn’t figure out what.

The last post I wrote was a difficult one, not the writing part, but the subject. It was my love letter, I guess we could call it, to Ashley, who passed away in June after an incredibly hard-fought battle with stage 4 breast cancer. I poured my heart out to her, her beautiful little girl, Avery, and her amazing parents, Nancy and Rex.

It took more out of me than I expected. I didn’t realize how hard Ashley’s death would hit me. It’s not that I was honored enough to be one of her close friends or family. I won’t even pretend to be in that circle, which is also why I didn’t feel I had the right to hurt as they all must be. I really know Nancy more than anyone, and I got to know Ashley a bit more during her fight, but mostly because of my friendship with her mom and also because Ashley and I shared a love for writing, and we each appreciated the other’s blog. And I admired her so much. SO much.

Besides the fight she vowed to fight, and the strength she showed the world, the thing that I really, really admired about her was that she chose to be happy. She had such a horrendous diagnosis, and she knew it would be a fight like no other, but in spite of all that, she chose to be happy. Every day. You know she had to have been in pain. You know there were days she got horrible news. The surgeries and the treatments had to have been beyond awful. But she chose to be happy. She did everything she could to make her time with her Avery as wonderful as it could be. She did everything for Avery.

When she died, I vowed to live every day to honor her, and I really meant it. So what the hell, Andee? What gave you the right to go into a slump? How is that honoring anyone?

Of course, the answer to that is it honors no one. But I didn’t quite realize any of this until Ashley’s birthday a few days ago. I didn’t even know it was her birthday until her mom posted the most beautiful words about her, and asked everyone to honor her 34th birthday by spending the month of December doing 34 acts of kindness for Ashley.

Seriously, I’m being mopey, and Nancy faces what had to have been one of the worst days since she lost her girl by writing the most beautiful post, and I have to say, not only was it beautiful, but it kind of kicked my ass.

I need to say this, though, and I know I’m not the only one thinking it. And let me preface it by saying I know it’s not in any of our control to decide who lives and who doesn’t, and as the pastor said at Ashley’s celebration (and I believe too), God doesn’t give anyone cancer or cause horrible things to happen to someone. I get all that, and I believe all that. But here’s the thing that keeps eating at me. I can’t stand that it happened to Ashley and her family. I still have my girls, and Nancy lost one of hers. My grandsons have their mommy, and Avery doesn’t have hers. Every day they have to live with their loss, and I hate that for them. I hate it. It breaks my heart every day. I have another good friend who also had breast cancer and got through all her treatments and is doing well, and she said, “I don’t understand why I’m still here, and Ashley isn’t.” So it’s not just me. So many of us feel the same way, and although we all know it’s not in our control, it still totally stinks.

I’m pretty sure the Jensens know this, but I’m going to say it anyway. We all hurt for them. We all would wish anything for them but this. We all hope and pray that Avery lives a happy life, keeping her mommy with her every day. And we hurt for all the parents who have lost children, and the children who have lost their parents, especially the young ones. It’s nothing even remotely close to the pain of losing someone so important to you, and I wouldn’t even begin to say that it is. But it’s hard to see people you love have such a horrible thing happen, and know there’s really not much you can do to make it better.

EXCEPT, Andee, you could do 34 acts of kindness to honor Ashley and her family. There’s a thought for your mopey, sad self.

So, I am hereby no longer feeling mopey and sad. Ok, well right now I’m crying, but when I’m done, I will find 34 ways to put kindness out into the world. Of course, because I’m Andee, I think we all know I’ll not do something every day (because I’m already a few days behind), and I’ll wait until the last minute because I do my best work on a deadline, so somewhere toward the end of December, I am going to kindness my ass off for Ms. Ashley and her family!

That’s it. As of right now, I am officially choosing to be happy. So let the kindness begin!