“Let’s Rename It.”

I clocked out of work on Monday, sat in my car, and checked my phone for voicemails and text messages. My art teacher has cancelled most of our planned meetings since her cancer diagnosis but today, I was notification free. My gut feeling wasn’t positive, but I drove over to her place anyway.

I was greeted at the door by my winded and pale friend. She grasped the door firmly and it took all her energy to just speak. “It changes from one moment to the next. I was doing better earlier,” she explained. From there I was beckoned into the kitchen where she placed a cracker-sized piece of sourdough topped with cheese, salami, and tomato in my hand. She leaned over the kitchen counter and tried to forcefully eat hers. “I’m trying. I’m really trying [to care for myself].” I watched her take a half-hearted bite while tears trickled down the corner of her eyes. She was exhausted. She felt defeated.

I forcefully swallowed the salami cheese lump in my throat and hugged her gingerly. I had tears too. “I’m sorry you are going through this,” I whispered. I walked back to my spot and finished my snack for her sake.

“I’m trying to pray fairly,” I told her. “I pray with faith for God to fully heal you if that’s His will, but I also pray that if it’s your time He gives you strength and lessens the pain.”

She nods and then apologizes for crying and I tell her it is perfectly fine to cry.

Her photoshop lessons are on pause indefinitely. Since she is now technically in hospice, we work on end-of-life planning. She helps me with painting and I help her gather pictures for her memorial montage. It’s just as heavy and grim as it sounds in theory, paired with her sharing sweet memories from certain snapshots.

We began with a new desktop folder. “What would you like to name it?” I dare not name it myself.

“Last.” She says firmly.

I type in her request with a heavy heart. We open up her pictures folder and go through each folder, one by one. I wouldn’t say this was a miracle, because I was CTRL+Z’ing some of the accidental shortcuts I made, but we had the folder name disappear twice when it shouldn’t have. Either her archaic laptop was freaking out, or I was subconsciously undo-ing more than once. The important part is that I wasn’t trying and truly didn’t understand why the folder name kept changing if I had so many images in there already and it wasn’t undo-ing THAT.

“Look. It disappeared again!” I searched her desktop for the Last folder and found it hiding out as “new folder 4”. “Perhaps last is not the right name for it. We need something more hopeful.”

She tightens her jaw. “Let’s rename it.” She takes a moment as her voice quivers: “Hope.” She apologizes again for crying. “Maybe it’s not my time yet.” We both remain quiet in the intensity of the moment. She pulls out a tissue and wipes her eyes. “You know, this is the first time I’m crying for me.”

Even though the buggy little four-letter folder may have been a glitch or oversight on my part, it truly was a miracle for her. It strengthened her and gave her hope for that day. And I know in that way, it was from God. It was a sign she isn’t defeated yet.

Advertisements

12 Days until Race Day!

The race and foster festival is almost here! Like, less than 2 weeks away! I’m so excited. The culmination of our year’s worth of efforts will finally be put to action very soon.

I have so much respect for all charity races now, especially ones that are just starting up. It’s A LOT of work, and there are so many people behind the scenes to make it possible.

You start your year hoping that enough donations and fundraising help spread the message and provide you a backbone for all that happens. Then you run into little setbacks and people trying their hardest to secure a race place and work with the city to set the route and all the planning aspects. You work on race cards and flyers and hand them out hoping businesses will let you display them on their community boards and that they catch the attention of people around town and county wide.

This is my first year on board, for the fourth annual event. Our race numbers are the highest they’ve ever been which is a good sign, and God definitely put a hedge around us as other charity races around our timeframe were cancelled due to low sign ups. Now we are just praying that rain doesn’t get in the way.

I have learned so much about foster youth and some of their struggles. And I know what I currently understand is only a tiny amount. I think I naively assumed for a long time that all foster children wanted to be adopted and one of the primary reasons to foster was to adopt. The reality is that the heart of fostering is providing a temporary home and safe environment where you can foster hope, love, and encouragement. Sometimes that leads to adoption, and sometimes that leads to a child reuniting with a parent or a relative gaining custody. Sometimes children do wish to age out of the foster system with no plan of being adopted. Sometimes they place their loyalty in their parent(s) and refuse. Our race helps pay for things the state may not be able to offer, like orthodontia, extra curricular activities, and learning programs – things that help boost self-confidence and prepare them for a bright future.

Next Saturday and Sunday, we go to the site and walk through plans and do our training with volunteers. We need an estimated 200 volunteers, we’ve grown so much!  I’m just flabbergasted at that. 200 volunteers from all over the county have stepped up, local businesses and big corporations have stepped up, and the feeling of community is just so overwhelming. There are so many hearts unified for a great cause. This is what fuels us for next year.