Camping season is winding down out at our favourite summer getaway. Every year we have new summer neighbours and this year we met a wonderful couple who braved the elements in a pop up tent trailer. We made our introductions at the beginning of the camping season and she was wearing a Relay for Life shirt at our first meeting. I asked her about it and she told me that she had been a Breast Cancer survivor for many years. We talked and shared just a bit about our lives. All polite introductions.
Through the summer, we managed to avoid each other. Not on purpose. But they were out the weekends we weren’t and we were out when they weren’t.
This past weekend, we got our act together and were both out at the same time and both without other company. When they arrived on Saturday afternoon, my husband and I were sitting outside enjoying a cup of coffee in the sunshine. They stopped to say hi. I could tell something was bothering her. She was usually happy and cheerful but this was a sad woman standing in front of us. I asked if she was okay. She told me that she had been to 3 funerals that week and she just needed time at the lake to recuperate and process. And she walked away.
I knew she needed a hug. But I didn’t even really know her. Is it appropriate to hug complete strangers?
So the next day, I was washing dishes and looked out my window and saw this lady sitting by her campfire. I felt the nudge. I argued, “You want me to do what? You’re kidding! I don’t even know her.” I waited. I looked out again. She was still sitting there. I dried my last dish and stood there watching her. I knew what I needed to do.
She looked up as I walked towards her. I simply said, “Yesterday when you told me about your week, I knew you needed a hug and I didn’t give you one. That was wrong of me. Would you accept a hug now from a stranger?” She said she would. So we hugged and I knew she was battling something pretty significant. We continued talking and she told me that all 3 of the funerals were women who had been battling breast cancer. One of the women had been her paddling partner for her Dragon Boat racing team. I felt like my insides were crumbling. The reality of the fragility of life. I didn’t want to hear it. But I stayed. I knew that the processing I had been doing in the past few weeks had not been in vain as we shared together how cancer had changed us. The beauty of it is that she is also a believer in the faithfulness of God and how He has walked every inch of this journey with her.
And even in the terror of knowing we could be next for a recurrence, we have the assurance that come what may, He can give us the peace and the strength we need to face it.
So we’re not strangers anymore. We wiped our tears and hugged and exchanged contact information.
Sisterhood of the Breast Cancer Pants (?).
- 'More than Enough' by Sherri Hildebrandt is available now in bookstores nationwide and online for $18.99. Books purchased directly through SherriHildebrandt.com include a $1 donation to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.