There are times when I get home after work and I am alone. Typically this would not be a problem at all, however on occasion a feeling of loneliness hits me. Having cancer provides you with an immediate sense of mortality and loneliness is probably one of the worst feelings a person can have while enduring such a difficult period in their life. I am unbelievably blessed with a caring family, a fiancée without whom I truly do not know how I would be able to handle this, and friends who, during a time when my life has been turned on its side, have found ways to right the ship and make sure that every day I spend with them is no different than before. When I go in for infusions, I see elderly people and I hope that they have the same support system to help them get through this. Confidence is key and I would not have that without my network. Now for the point of my post, which is dramatically more optimistic than the intro. Clover recently wrote a blog post about a children's story involving cranes, which was moving and a wonderful source of inspiration. Jenny O'Connell, more affectionately known as J-Tall, first enlightened me to the story as she had folded cranes along with many others to help provide support to a family member who was sick. The crane has become almost a symbol of my battle, a sort of paper mockingjay for the rebellion in my body (Hunger Games reference). Clover had started folding her 1,000 cranes to support the RyFight, which have started to fill any available table space in our tiny New York City apartment. I think the best way I can describe Clover's cranes is that they were the calm before the storm. Shortly after the post, I received a message from my friend Suki who informed me that her mom who lives in Japan and reads my blog had sent Clover and I a gift. Upon opening the box, I was shocked to discover 1,000 tiny folded cranes strung together into a beautiful work of art. The pictures do not do it justice. I was completely overwhelmed with the gesture and the note that included the signatures of what I can only assume is a small army of Japanese woman who helped contribute to this beautiful piece of art. Clover and I quickly started to brainstorm where to display the gift. A day or so later, I received a call from my friend J-Tall who said she would be passing through NYC and wanted to get lunch. I picked my favorite place near my office, which also happens to be probably the tiniest restaurant we could have picked for what would occur next. I was surprised to see a couple other friends stopped by for lunch including my absolutely beautiful goddaughter Lilikoi. Throughout lunch, we caught up and just enjoyed each other’s company. Toward the end of the meal, I noticed J-Tall was sporting a crane earring. I made mention of it and then decided to tell everyone the abovementioned story about the beautiful crane chandelier sent to us from Japan. Jenny burst out in laughter and informed me that she had lied to me. She was not just passing through NYC, but rather drove down from Albany to present a gift to us. At that point she and her sister Caitlin pulled out giant black garbage bags from their luggage and asked me to stick my hand into the bag. I pulled out a handful of folded cranes. She had sent out emails to many people asking to contribute folded origami cranes to my cause. The goal was a thousand and Jenny received over 2,468 folded cranes from across the country. She then mentioned that in the bags were only 1,262 cranes and the rest were sent to a person battling brain cancer. She figured I would not mind, which she was correct about. I was in awe of the gift. I joked that I had no idea where I would put them but would figure something out. Clover spearheaded that operation and turned our guest room into what is now lovingly called our Crane Room. It is flourished with thousands of cranes and acts as a constant reminder that there are so many people out there who are there for me and are there to make sure I win this fight. Confidence is key and right now I could not have any more thanks to all of you.
I love you.
When I wrote the Crane post, it was done in a moment of introspection and love for a simple act of kindness. Immediately afterwards, not much seemed to change. I went through my days folding cranes every other day, and every once in a while someone would tell me they enjoyed my post or were familiar with the story as well. And then as Christmas neared, a few wonderful things happened all at once.
It started with a beautiful crane ornament in the mail. The woman who sent this to us is the mother of one of my very closest friends. She is a woman who has always welcomed me into her home and family with warm food and warmer hugs, so this was a very special crane indeed.
The very next day, I received a call from Ryan at 9:51am. “Clover. Something happened.” Alarmed, I asked him what was the matter. “Something came from Japan. You just have to see it. It’s crazy. I just sent you a picture. Just look at it.” He called me back practically while my phone was still downloading the picture file. “Did you see it?!” It was a stunning, intricately woven chandelier of miniature cranes cascading down the sides in all colors of the rainbow. As Ryan explained above, Suki’s mother, who lives in Japan, had mobilized around 30 of her friends to make this dazzling work of art. And as we stared at the crane chandelier, I thought, wow. Someone reads our blog.
The very next day, Ryan and I received an email from our friend Jenny O’Connell (of the aforementioned crane necklace), asking if we were free for lunch the next day. You know what happens next. This beautiful lady, her wonderful sister, and all you beautiful, wonderful people folded thousands of cranes, each alight with the hopes and wishes of wellbeing for the light of my life: my strong, incredible, larger than life fiancé Ryan West.
Although I have tried valiantly, words cannot properly describe how much I am moved by the actions of all of you. Thank you for continuing to fight the #ryfight.