Friday, March 13, 2015

#151 "Strangers Become Friends"

 “Hospitality is beyond the care, bear, and share adventures.
In the interruptions of our normal schedules,
When attempts are made to remove the anxieties of others,
Strangers become friends.” Sinnantamby Thevansenasan

I received this lovely tribute from a dear friend--she will explain the situation below.  Cancer has led me to many different connections and I embrace the one that led me to Di--a true giver and a remarkable friend.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

When Di Met Mary

Four years ago, as I was nearing my 55th birthday, I read an article in the WSJ by Doug Moe about Mary Gooze and her 60 goals for her 60th year.  I was inspired to do the same using 55 as the common denominator.  My goals were perhaps not as lofty as Mary’s, but I have a demanding career and I had to be realistic about my time.  I did succeed in accomplishing much of what I hoped to do, including traveling, meeting new people, and doing more random acts of kindness.  I shared Mary’s story with friends, and many of them were also inspired to try to new things, mostly to better themselves or others.  My next door neighbor started a lung cancer support group…wow!
I then learned in 2012 that Mary had breast cancer.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 52.  Breast cancer makes one appreciate life more each day.   Although I had never met Mary, we were now bonded in a way that is hard to describe unless you’ve been there.  At the time I wrote Doug Moe and asked him to let Mary know I was praying for her.  I ended my email with these words:  “Mary is an inspiration – thank you for your story.  You connected me to a woman I have never met, and it made a difference in my life.”
That changed in August, 2012, when I went to the Firefly Coffeehouse in Oregon to meet Mary for lunch.  I knew the minute I saw this beautiful woman (with chemo curl -been there) getting out of her car that it was Mary.  We hugged in the parking lot.  We talked nonstop over delicious sandwiches as if we had met years before.  I updated Doug Moe about our lunch date and thanked him again for connecting Mary and me through his story.   
Mary and I only touched base a few times through email for almost two years after that day, yet I still thought about her frequently.  On July 6, 2014, I received an email from Mary who stated “because we have a connection, I wanted you to know that my cancer is now back in my hip and arm bone.”   It was a punch in the stomach, and I wept with frustration and sorrow.  I have had too many close relatives and friends diagnosed with metastatic cancer, and I was mad as hell that Mary’s cancer was back.  For cancer patients, mad and scared go hand in hand.  Cancer sucks.
We met for coffee at Panera on July 28, 2014.  (Actually, I had toxic coffee and Mary, the health conscious one, had a smoothie.)  I didn’t tell Mary how emotional this meeting was for me because I was trying to be strong for her.  I was so blown away by her humanness…she talked about her fears, her pain and her sadness.  She also told me she was going to fight hard to beat the beast and outlive all medical predictions.  Go Mary, go!  She is doing just that with a huge network of friends cheering her on.

7777+ Days is amazing…several of Mary’s friends have commented about her gift of connecting people.  That is an understatement.  Doug Moe introduced me to Mary through his story, but Mary’s willingness to meet a total stranger for lunch is something I will be forever thankful for.   Although I have never met Mary’s family or friends, I am amazed how close I feel to her.  I have only had two face-to-face meetings with Mary…I actually looked through my last four years of calendars to confirm this fact because I have a hard time believing it myself!  She is such a loveable, courageous, brilliant, feisty, motivated and talented woman.  I pray for Mary every day, and I carry her in my heart at all times.  I am so looking forward to seeing her again when she returns to Wisconsin.  I love Mary dearly, and I tell her that every chance I get.  She is a precious gift to everyone she touches.  Although this is likely to make her cringe, it is truly an honor to know her.  I love you, Mary Gooze!    

Thanks for reading # 151 of 7777.  

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