There is a lady who I see every week at the Starbucks near where I work in downtown Columbus. She’s always upbeat and cordial. I ran into her while voting recently as she was volunteering at my local precinct. Same smile and warm manner.
I ran into her again yesterday where she came out to greet me while I was waiting for my order. She told me three Thanksgiving stories with her husband. The first ended with his cancer diagnosis at Thanksgiving and painful treatment afterwards. The second Thanksgiving came with more bad news and cost him his right arm. Finally, the third, came with no more cancer. The first year they’ve been given a respite from the horrible disease that has taken so many folks I’ve known over my lifetime. The same disease that has made some of my family members lives complicated at best if not painful, dangerous and harrowing.
I was left thinking about how we tell stories. What is it that makes us spontaneously open up to one another and share such beautiful moments? Stories of survival basically made from hope. We have an unending capacity to change and redefine ourselves in the face of even the darkest situations. Of course sometimes we need others to remind us of this. Sharing these experiences is nothing less than one of the most precious gifts we can give to each other.
As the Holiday Season kicks off tomorrow I’ll be spending my time with a small group of family in Columbus thinking of all the people who have touched me over 2016… feeling both lucky to be here and grateful for all the love shared between family, friends and strangers.