A Pause of Joy and Thanksgiving for the Gift of Life
Today is a “thank you, God” moment for me. In fact, every new today claims that fame. Eight years ago, I didn’t know if there would be a tomorrow for me. Memento Mori was front row center, and the most available resource for my healing journey was surrender to Good, Love, and Possibility. I write this week’s post on the eighth anniversary of my 2010 stem cell transplant. Anniversaries of “hallmark” moments often inspire my gratitude for the blessings and graces that color my becoming. Today’s Pause celebrates the joys and sorrows, worries and wonders, graces and gratitudes that define those “hallmark” moments which comprise our lives.
Although somewhat overused, the word “hallmark” inspires many thoughts in my weird (yet never boring) thought processes. I recall the greeting card company, founded by Joyce Hall and his brothers in 1910, which included the gold crown hallmark symbol (used by 14th century London goldsmiths) on their greeting cards in 1928. Their company coined the slogan, “when you care enough to send the very best” in 1944; and they changed their company name from Hall Brothers to Hallmark in 1954. I have never known life without Hallmark—the company, the cards, the wrapping paper, assorted stationery, books, gifts, music, movies…all created from the inventive inspiration of a young guy and his brothers.
I remember as a kid walking down the hallway to the laundry room closet door, which my parents would open, take out a yardstick and a pencil, instructing me and my siblings to stand tall as they made marks with our names and the date. Although I realize the marks were made inside the door of the laundry room closet (my mother was a neat nick); the expression “hallmark” labeled those memories for me. It was a milestone of how much I had physically grown since the last time we remembered to measure my height. A mark on a wall, down a hall, in a closet, and where I traveled to get there—all were contained in those memories, those “hallmark moments”.
Halls remind me of the corridors I travel from one room to another. The marks I make as I traverse the hallways, narrow or broad, define the transitions between where I’ve been and where I am going. Hallways are present moment places; yet so many times I focus on where I’m going and forget to be present to the in-betweens. The marks in the hallways, the “hall marks” often are the truly creative becoming pieces of what I choose to assemble into myself when I get to the room I will next enter.
Cancer travel often is into dark, winding, dank and disturbing corridors, leading its weary travelers to a great abyss of unknowing, and then detours into other equally frustrating unlit hallways where travelers can only guess their ways out of the maze. My favorite flashlight to navigate the darkness during HILDA was TRUST. I learned to trust myself as the unknown took over my landscape. There were no rooms; only halls, and my dependence was on whom or what I extended my trust. I trusted God and me. I extended that trust to my chosen transplant docs, my ultimate infectious disease doctor, and my forever wonderful doc. I chose to trust the doctors, nurses, friends, and family leading me through the hallways when my flashlight battery failed. My back up batteries were these chosen angels who could help me go where I wanted to go when I couldn’t walk, talk, see, hear, smell, taste, or feel. In the letting go/surrender to the unknowing, miraculous possibility led vision and intention to a brand-new room I couldn’t imagine until I arrived there.
Dates are hallmark moments. A birthday, a graduation, anniversary, wedding, death. We have hallmark cards for every occasion, no matter what! We create cards and occasions. We can choose to write all of those auspicious dates/rooms as celebratory or life-delineating notations on the calendars of our life’s syllabus.
Whenever my best friend and favorite husband asks me about a significant occurrence or date, he despairs when I respond, “Oh! It’s when great Aunt Edith died.” Or, more personally, “David’s and Andrew’s births/When my Mom/ Dad died/When I had my second stillbirth/When my brother bled to death/When my best friend(s) died.” These events happened in hallways, and I still carry their marks. Hallmarked moments. In those halls I was fully alive, fully present, and witness to transitions that led me to unfamiliar rooms where I rediscovered/reinvented myself.
My transplant occurred in August 2010. I was diagnosed with leukemia in May of 1998. My cancer did not leave the hallway until April of 2012, and we weren’t sure it wasn’t waiting in the laundry room closet to surprise me until spring the following year. Almost 15 years I spent in the hallway, and eventually, it brought me home to some my favorite “hallmark moments.”
Our grandson Danny was born in September 2013. Both of our sons have married. We have grand dogs and another granddaughter, Jillian, born in April 2017. There have been some hallway issues for Gerry with his heart, but he navigated the hallways like a pro. We have dear friends struggling with bits of everything that keep those of us who love them in the perpetual hallways. We have discovered expansive new landscapes encouraging us to explore, grow, and discover beautiful new vistas for becoming.
The laundry room closet belongs in a history of long ago. I’m certain those pencil marks have been erased. However, the hallways and hallmarks of every adventure remain in my memories and are carried into every hallway and every room I traverse. Hallmarks are witness to my significance, my history, my ability to navigate into who I choose to be. Amor Fati=”Love of Fate”: I may not choose which hallways I travel, but I can choose with whom I travel, the ways I travel, and how I mark those hallway moments.
Hallmark has a great slogan: “When you care enough to send your very best.” May I care enough to give from my very best self for the highest good, whether I’m stuck in a hallway or dancing in a room where I’m joyfully and thankfully celebrating the gifts of Good, Love, and Possibility.