You know how when you write or say a word over and over, it starts to look odd, and then you start to wonder if you’re actually doing it correctly, and then in the end it loses all meaning? I kind of feel a bit like that with “Thank You.”
I’ve had a lot of reasons to say thank you in the past year. It’s been, without doubt, the toughest year of my life, and yet, I have so much gratitude that gratitude is literally spilling out of my eyes.
Setting aside for a second the utterly immense amount of emotional support I’ve received since I got sick – which I am totally overwhelmed by – I want to talk for a bit about gifts.
Gifts, and particularly cards, have always meant a lot to me. That might seem like a superfluous statement – surely they mean a lot to everyone? This might help show what I mean:
It might not look like much, but this is every card I’ve been given since I started keeping them when I was 14. Every birthday, Christmas, and Get Well card. Every note. (You realise when you start packing to move house, how much stuff you’re lugging about!) And I don’t regret it for a second. This is the sort of thing I will read when I’m 80.
I keep writing stuff and deleting it right now because what I want to say feels inexpressible and that’s my point. Saying ‘Thank You’ just does not cut it.
Over the past few months I have been the blubbering recipient of: flowers, books, artworks, home-made stickers and brooches and badges, chocolate, spoons, chocolate in the form of spoons, socks, stuffed animals, craft stuff, gift cards, jewellery, tea cups, candles, clothes, and so so so many wonderful words. Not to mention the incredible fundraiser last year and things like grocery vouchers that have literally put food in my mouth.
Where do I begin to respond? How do I tell you all how much it means? It’s not just something in the mailbox to me. It’s things that have kept me going. It’s things that have said to me: “You’re not alone. You can get through this. We care.” (Oops, I’ve started crying a wee bit. Bear with me!)
You know what else it is? It’s a life lesson. Because Old Me wouldn’t have stood for it. She just wouldn’t have accepted these things, especially your words. She would have been too independent and too embarrassed and convinced that nobody really meant it. And I’m not saying I don’t still fight these feelings. I’ve talked about accepting help before, and what a challenge that is for me. But I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t. It’s that simple.
So – how do I say thank you when ‘Thank You’ isn’t enough? I keep living. I figure if you all see my progress, if you see me fighting, if you see me being able to write and eat and help others like you’ve helped me – then that’s me saying thank you. Because I figure, if you gave me something, if you supported me, that’s what you wanted, right? You wanted to see me live – and live happily.
Well, you’ve made me happy. I’m here because of all of you. Because of the chocolate and the cards and the artwork and the cat stickers and the spoons when I had none of my own and most importantly your incredibly powerful words of encouragement.