The flowers from my landlord.
The offer from an old coworker of a place to live if I needed a bone marrow transplant.
The flight miles for my mom from the synagogue family.
The money from my brother’s high school friends so he could afford to visit.
Socks from a dearest friend.
Soap from another, because hospital soap smells like sick people.
A fuzzy blanket from an acquaintance to hide the threadbare ones.
A bejeweled travel cup with home-made green smoothies.
The pumpkin bread almost daily from a hospital worker who met my mom in the elevator and let her cry.
The stuffed duck from one of the rabbis.
The prayer my two friends read over my bed.
The lovingly worn book by my favorite poet, read by the Australian nurse to me and my friend who gifted it.
The laundry. Oh the laundry. From a friend who was more like a mom, and helped me with my self-injections when I was too chicken.
Pumpkin muffins from the friend going through a divorce, and I was happy to hear about someone else’s drama for a while.
The woman who read a guided meditation to me, and held my hand while I got blood.
The one who gave me Reiki and slipped me one of his favorite crystals when his guy friends weren’t watching.
The games of Words with Friends that kept me connected when I wasn’t — and the trash talk because ‘xoj’ really shouldn’t be a word.
There was the un-signed gift of chemo caps from an Etsy vendor with a card that simply read, “Someone wants you to keep warm.”
The strand of dried flowers I could hang in my room, since I wasn’t allowed to keep real ones, from a friend I’d only just met.
The box of skin care from an old coworker, since she’d heard your skin dries out.
The nearly-free trip to Hawaii with a dear friend’s flight pass.
The home to stay there with strangers — complete strangers who welcomed me in the dark of winter when I needed a vacation from cancer.
The nurse I met who took my cat in for a week while I was inpatient. And sent me funny videos of her.
The old friend who brought me a lucky bamboo, that’s still alive today.
The donation from my fellowship they’d collected anonymously.
The Trader Joes gift cards.
Home-cooked chicken with two old friends we all ate together like an almost-normal meal.
The website set up by a friend, as I listed in my daze all the people I wanted included on my updates.
The friend who sat with my mom while I slept, and the other one who walked with her to the paperwork office so she didn’t have to navigate alone.
My brother, who sat at my bedside with a guitar and a camp songbook and we sang. And sang.
My mom, who brought me coffee every morning she was there because I wanted it nearby even if I couldn’t drink it. My mom, who answered a long-beleaguered, 4-months-of-this-shit tired phone call by showing up in near-minutes. With an old coworker’s flight miles.
My dad, who tried. Not well. But tried. And loves me, no matter the look or feel of it.
Everybody showed up for me.
There were cards posted all over my room, it looked like a Hallmark store.
There was art made because one of the nurse’s daughters bought me stickers and a stamp kit I still use.
There was the mini-USB keyboard from my ex so I could get some of that emotion out differently.
Brownies, and soups, and protein drinks, and sparking water (since regular water tasted like ash). Chocolates. And puzzle books. And texts and calls.
The friend who sat on the phone with each of my bill companies and explained my situation. The same one who reminded me monthly to pay those bills. The same one who lay with me in my hospital bed and napped with me. And helped me pack up on the joy of release day every single time.
Everybody. Showed. Up.
I had everything I needed. The rest was up to Fate, Science, and a grand thing called Luck.
But, with only Fate Science and Luck, it’s a bleak proposition. I didn’t do this alone.
It’s two years since I sat in a hospital bed with a tube in my chest and a cap on my bald head.
Without all of them. … And those I can’t even name, I …
I don’t think they’ve made words for this yet.
Actually, no. They have: It’s Love.
The hidden ingredient of life and survival and health is Love.
Thank. You. For. It.