A Little Prayer Out To The Universe
Almost a year ago at Camp Sunshine, I sat on the dock during our volunteer free time with my friends Jessica and Michele chatting and enjoying the lake. Three moms next to us were doing the same. I knew them – one very well – and knew that all three of their sons were fighting different forms of pediatric cancer.
At Camp Sunshine, there are a lot of things to see and hear that make me feel all different kinds of emotions. There are moments that make me joyful, sad, confused, heartened, frustrated and empowered. After my first volunteer week in 2009, I remember describing it like this: “I felt like I was ready to cry at any minute. My eyes were filled with tears a lot of the time.” But, when my eyes fill with tears, it’s not always because it’s sad. Sometimes, it’s because it’s moving, it’s powerful or it’s meaningful in some way – often a small way, and sometimes only to me.
This morning at the dock was classic Camp Sunshine in this regard. While my friends and I were chatting, I could hear the moms next to us doing the same. One of their topics was how the Ronald McDonald House made such a difference to them and how one family saves soda can tabs and donates them to their local Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald Houses all over the country collect them and receive money for them.*
It is hard for me to put into words my observation of this conversation – the spirit, grace and heart of these moms and their families affected by childhood cancer. I didn’t talk about it afterwards with Jess or Michele (I’m not sure they even heard it at the time although they know now that I did), but it felt like some kind of sacred moment reflecting a bond you never want to have. I have thought about this dock moment countless times since last summer. On a consistent basis, I am so impressed – and so uplifted by – the families I know affected by childhood cancer and how much they care about giving back. Their hearts are splintered so badly by childhood cancer, and yet they are wholehearted in their generosity and gratitude in moving and inspiring ways.
Since that morning at Camp Sunshine, I am very proactive (read: slightly obsessive) about saving the tabs from soda cans. I think about these moms on the dock (and all the other parents of children with cancer I’ve met) every time I pull one off – and it’s like a little prayer going out to The Universe each time.
I frequently find can tabs in different places – on my desk at school, in the console on my car, in my purse. My friends save them and give them to me in bags once they’ve collected a bunch. We have a place in our school office for them, and, this summer, we have a small container in my office for them too. The kids at school bring them in regularly. I’ve got a container in my kitchen, and a friend has a little bowl by her sink for them. Whenever I find one – or pull one, or am given a bag full of them – it reminds me, even if only briefly, of how I felt on the dock last summer and of the courage and grace of the families I know in the childhood cancer fight. And, so, it seems like the very least I can do is summon a little of their grace and regularly send out little prayers to The Universe for them with small pieces of metal from soda cans.
*Details can be found here about the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C.‘s soda tab collection. The Pinecrest School K-Kids and I donate them to the Northern Virginia house, but if you’re outside of the D.C. area, trying Googling “Ronald McDonald house can tabs” to find a local house near you that collects them. If you’re not near one, and you see me regularly, I’m happy anytime to accept them at any time – in bags or individually – and we’ll add them to our big box at Pinecrest.
For Roya Giordano, Megan Krol and Jessica Fisher ❤