An Unexpected Gift

I went for a walk this morning. I reluctantly put the leash and harness on the dog and walked up the street. I have zero energy and did not expect to go much further but I let the dog lead the way. I have been living in my town for a little over ten years and still do not know all my neighbors. It's much different than the neighborhood of my youth. The houses are spread out here and community can be hard to come by.

We walked by a house and the tiniest tea cup dog came walking up his driveway. I stopped to look because I could not get over the size. It was so cute. And it wasn't like one of those little dogs that yips and has a Napoleon Complex. He came up, I was nervous he would run in the road so I waited until the owner came over. My dog and little tea cup pup sniffed and seemed to get along. At first the pup was shaking like it was battery operated. The dogs seemed to get along well.

The woman and I chatted about the dog and then we started talking about trips and long plane rides and diet restrictions.

I noticed her hair was bare in spots but did not say anything. She eventually offered her diagnosis of lung cancer that spread to the brain and a recent finding of a brain aneurism. She immediately told me she was in remission from the cancer, miraculously, and they are watching the aneurism and it is not getting any bigger. I looked at her in amazement. I was walking like a zombie and happened upon a woman I have lived around the corner from for over ten years and learned so much in a twenty minute time span. She was weak but she said she was grateful for the good days. She mentioned the incredible support she gets from her family. She spoke so highly of her very intuitive and supportive husband who always knows when she, Eleanor is having a bad day. He says "Let's go for a ride." and they get out and drive. She talked about her daughter who is a nurse and is such an amazing resource for her when she doesn't understand what the doctor is saying and visits regularly. Another child is local and another is in Australia with a new baby, that was the long trip she went on.

My heart filled with so much emotion. I felt love for Eleanor. I saw the beauty in Eleanor. The strength despite her tiny frame and slow gate. Her daughter pulled up as we were speaking and her face lit up. She immediately started walking toward her daughters car and we said our good byes. I told her it was a pleasure to meet her and I would be sending her positive vibes and I touched my chest. She picked up her little teacup and Ganesh and I started off for a long walk around the block.

Eleanor was my gift today. My mind is often occupied with so much regarding my own "issues" and "struggles."

Of course Eleanor reminded me of my Mother who battled cancer valiantly for eleven years, and my brother who succumbed to lung cancer the same year my Mom passed. I was a bit jealous. She is in remission from what killed my brother. I told Eleanor that it was so wonderful to see someone in remission from something that took my brother. That she is a survivor! Of course it made me sad but the take away is that she is my gift for today.

Eleanor the survivor.

I wanted to hug her but she was so anxious to see her daughter, and after not meeting for ten years to offer a hug I didn't know if that might be odd. The hug would have been for me I think. I wanted to feel the strength in her sunken chest. I wanted to feel her energy. Perhaps feel the hope and gratitude. Perhaps feel her strength. Although I could have also given her a feeling of empathy and love because that it what I was feeling so strongly.

I will see Eleanor again. I will offer a hug. I may come home and cry. But I will also see Eleanor for who she is, an amazing human being. Beautiful, strong and grateful for what she has, despite her illnesses. They do not define her, at least in my short encounter with her I did not feel like she was swimming in despair, but rather floating on top, and riding the wave.

Thank you Eleanor


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