Christmas 2010 was a strange one, I feared it may be my last, and I wanted to make it count.
It fell between my final two cycles of chemotherapy for an aggressive primary cancer. I was bald, bloated, fatigued and afraid. Nonetheless, I was determined to share in the annual Community Christmas Day lunch organised by local churches. With my jolly, red Santa hat pulled on firmly, I helped serve our assorted guests, many with complex or chaotic lives, with a delicious meal.
I paused to serve soup to an older woman, mother of one of the organisers, who has cognitive impairment following a severe brain injury.
“Young lady,” she said, “can I tell you something?”
I nodded and waited. Her eyes crinkled into a smile and she uttered just two words: “You’re beautiful”.
The bland reality is that she said this to every woman present, probably several times. But in that moment, the kind eyes, the happy face and two small words were a precious, priceless gift, piercing my unspoken sadness and filling me with joy.
Five years later, fit, well and in remission, I still treasure the gift of words spoken to my soul.
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